Memorial Hermann and Helix Partner on a Population Genomics Initiative Aimed at Driving Precision Health Care for Texans
HOUSTON and SAN MATEO, Calif., June 28, 2022 -- Leading population genomics and viral surveillance company, Helix, will begin working with Memorial Hermann Health System – a non-profit, award-winning health system committed to creating healthier Houston communities – in a new partnership this month. The two organizations will launch a population genomics research program designed to utilize DNA information to look for hidden health risks. Information will be used to help the health system better understand the health of its overall population and will give patients and their providers insight into their personal health in order to personalize patient care and create proactive care plans to address key risk factors.
With an anticipated 100,000 participants, this will be one of the largest population health research programs in Texas. The program will be used by Memorial Hermann to redefine health care for the communities the system has served for more than 115 years. Participants will have firsthand access to their personal genetic data which can help providers initially determine a patient's risk for serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. By identifying these risks before symptoms arise, providers and patients can make proactive decisions on care, with a potential to delay, reduce or even prevent detrimental health effects. Participation in the program will be completely optional, at no cost to the participant.
"Unlocking the insights of DNA will allow our affiliated providers to create precise, personalized plans for our patients and protect more people from preventable disease," said Dr. David Callender, President and CEO of Memorial Hermann. "Our mission is to improve the health of all those we serve. We know that population genomics is an increasingly important resource helpful for providing patients with the best possible care and ultimately improving their long-term health."
Powered by one of the largest CLIA / CAP sequencing labs in the world, Helix enables the production of high-quality data at population scale using its proprietary Exome+® assay. Helix is also the first and only lab to receive FDA de novo authorization for a whole exome sequencing platform. The platform uses industry best practices when it comes to data security, to avoid any misuse of information being stored. In addition, participants have complete control over how their information is used and shared, and who receives their information.
By applying its end-to-end genomic platform and unique Sequence Once, Query Often™ model, Helix can run future tests without having to collect additional genetic samples beyond the initial genetic data collection, which entails a one-time saliva sample collected at home then mailed in. So, as new tests are created, providers and patients can have ongoing insights into their health.
"Our partnership with Memorial Hermann gives patients access to information that can change the course of their lives. For example, a patient who learns they are at high risk for a certain disease is able to make proactive decisions that can potentially change the course of the condition," said James Lu, M.D, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Helix. "This collaboration will also provide Memorial Hermann and its research partners with genomics data that will have lasting implications for critical health discoveries and improvements to patient care."
In addition to its work with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Helix has already partnered with other well-respected organizations in the health care industry on similar initiatives. In such programs, as many as one in 75 participants have been found to be at risk for a serious health issue, of which 90 percent would not have been discovered through traditional practice.
"By identifying risks earlier, Memorial Hermann is innovating care delivery to go beyond standard medical practice. Working together with their providers, we hope to inspire patients – whether through medications, diet and exercise, behavioral changes or other medical options – to take greater control of their health," said Callender.
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