Helix and MUSC to Launch Population Health Genomics Initiative in South Carolina
The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and genomics company Helix will collaborate to set up and run a new population genomics program in the South Carolina region, called In Our DNA SC, with the goal of stimulate research and implementation of precision medicine.
The program will recruit 100,000 volunteers across the state who will undergo exome testing using the Helix platform and apply its “sequence once, request frequently” methodology, which involves storing data from the initial tests at the helix. cases where further testing is needed in the future.
The goal of the program is to provide useful health information to patients and their clinicians from the start, while contributing to medical research. To begin with, the program will assess the individual risk of certain types of cancer and cardiovascular disease to enable the development of a specific health plan for each participant and their family.
The initiative will also enable new research into the genetic causes of certain diseases and the response to treatments that will help improve precision health in the future.
The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is the only comprehensive academic health sciences center in the state, making it well positioned to deliver this program. Helix’s exome sequencing program is the only exome sequencing program approved by the FDA to date and the company has a long history of genomic sequencing and population genomics for disease screening and precision health.
“Precision medicine is an emerging field that will transform the future delivery of healthcare,” said David Cole, president of MUSC, in a press release. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Helix to deploy this one-of-a-kind population genomics program for our patients. This collaboration will help promote preventive and precision health care for Southern Carolinians. “
Registration for the program is expected to begin in the fall. To begin with, recruitment will take place at MUSC clinics and centers, but will later expand throughout the community and state through MUSC partner organizations and clinical affiliates.
“Large-scale population genomics initiatives like this one have the potential to dramatically improve a healthcare system’s ability to provide patients with accurate information about the health of the population,” said James Lu, CEO and co-founder of Helix.
“In similar programs, up to 1 in 75 participants were found to be at risk of developing a serious health problem, 90% of which would not have been discovered through traditional practice. By expanding access and making genomic data actionable for healthcare providers, we will be able to work in tandem with MUSC… to identify risks earlier and prevent or mitigate serious disease for its community and beyond.
Programs such as In Our DNA SC are becoming increasingly mainstream as the value of precision medicine and the impact of genetics on many aspects of disease and health become clearer. For example, North Shore University and health intelligence firm Sema4 set up a similar partnership in the Chicago area earlier this year.