How Will DNA Research Help Us Fight Disease?
DNA Study Hopes To Help Develop Better Drugs for Chronic Illnesses and Disease
In June, Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare and Reykjavik, an Iceland-based biopharmaceutical company, teamed up to collect and analyze 500,000 DNA samples. The initiative is called the HerediGene: Population Study. This project, between a healthcare institution and biopharmaceutical company, allows for “focusing on deep dives into patients’ genes, hoping to provide insights that can lead to newer, better drugs developed faster. But they’re not without their controversies.”
Another example of this kind of health care partnership that looks at human DNA includes a deal between the Mayo Clinic and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to sequence 100,000 patients. There are also agreements conducted by public institutions, such as the May 2019 data-release of the “All of Us” data, a project to enroll one million people to share health and medical data, run by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the UK Biobank. That data is open to all researchers.
When DNA data is made available to hospital researchers there is a potential for finding health insights and improving the treatment of diseases with drugs. “Although to-date there does not appear to have been enormous numbers of publicized insights coming out of these deals, it’s likely only a matter of time. For example, last year, Regeneron indicated that in its analysis of Geisinger patient data, it had identified a gene variant linked to a lower risk of chronic liver disease.”
In DNA research, patient privacy should always be considered first. It is imperative that a patient’s DNA data is protected, and if shared it must always be with their consent.
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