Residents of Cache Valley have a unique opportunity to be part of a global genetic study; an international collaboration between Intermountain Healthcare and deCODE Genetics of Iceland.
“It's a large population genomic study, by which we're collecting blood samples from 500,000 patient samples here in Utah, portions of Idaho, and also in Nevada. And those samples are sent to deCODE where we do whole genome sequencing," said Bryce Moulton, the senior director for clinical research at Intermountain Precision Genome.
The research team provides DNA analysis for treatment of cancer that is unique to the individual. deCODE Genetics also does DNA analysis but for research purposes. Moulton said the HerediGene: Population Study is exciting because it will help researchers discover new genetic markers that are potential targets for new drugs to treat many different diseases.
Moulton also expects the study to help researchers understand issues like why there is a higher incidence of melanoma in Utah than other states and cancers in the “downwinder” populations exposed to nuclear testing fallout in the 1950s.
“We want to learn more about how those mutations are passed along,” said Moulton. “And for how much longer that will happen. And just learn how our exposure to the environment has affected the way in which we become more susceptible to disease, like cancer, for example.”
Participation in the study is voluntary and open to all community residents 18 and older. People can take part at the lab inside Logan Regional Hospital now and other locations will be available in the future. Those with diagnosed diseases are especially encouraged to participate. So are families. Moulton urges residents to consider participating because it is a unique opportunity.
“There’s not very many chances to be a part of something this impactful. We will make several, if not just endless discoveries from the study,” Moulton said. “And I think being able to say that you are a part of that is a really incredible sort of badge of honor.”
For more information about the HerediGene study and how to participate, visit Intr.mn/iVnA50C7Jju.