SAN MATEO, Calif., August 15, 2023 – Helix, the leading population genomics and viral surveillance company in the nation, and Nebraska Medicine, the state’s largest hospital and leading academic health network, announced a partnership today to launch a population genomics program to drive precision medicine for all individuals in Nebraska called the Genetic Insights Project. The research program will identify participants’ risk for a variety of cancers and other potentially life-threatening diseases with a single test, with the goal of not only helping to improve the lives of individual patients but also identifying trends for everyone across the region.
“This new genomics program will help patients and their providers understand if they’re genetically predisposed to having an increased risk of one of several significant diseases,” says Allison Cushman-Vokoun, MD, PhD, medical director of Nebraska Medicine’s Molecular Diagnostics and Human Genetics Laboratories. “The Genetic Insights Project is a fundamental step in being able to provide patients with precision care. The project’s large-scale information will also help unlock DNA trends for the entire community—protecting more people from heart-related issues and cancer—for years to come.”
The Genetic Insights Project will provide important information about serious health conditions by testing for mutations in genes connected to a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer, Lynch syndrome (which is related to colorectal cancer), and high cholesterol. The research program may also expand its panel of genetic markers in the future, potentially providing information about other conditions.
“This information will let people make proactive decisions about their own health,” says Kyle Skiermont, PharmD, Nebraska Medicine vice president of operations. “This will potentially delay, reduce or even prevent these things from happening later in life. We’ll also be able to better understand and treat conditions affecting the entire population of the state.”
The goal of the new program is to enroll 100,000 people, which would make it the largest population health program in Nebraska. There will be no cost associated with participating in the research project to any participant involved and participation is completely voluntary. Partnering with Helix allows for the possibility of future genomics testing to be ordered without having to re-sequence patients. This may give providers and patients access to ongoing insights at point-of-care about their health throughout their lifetime.
“Other programs found that 1 in 75 participants discovered they had one of these serious, genetic conditions, of which 90 percent wouldn’t have been found through traditional methods,” said James Lu, MD, PhD, CEO and co-founder of Helix. “Additionally, population-wide screening is cost-effective for many people in preventing cancer and cardiovascular events. With this launch, Nebraska Medicine will be raising the bar in empowering all patients and their providers to take greater control of their health.”
Nebraska Medicine joins other health systems nationwide in partnering with Helix to launch this program. Nebraska Medicine and Helix plan to officially launch it on a limited basis in late 2023.
Helix is the leading population genomics and viral surveillance company. Helix enables health systems, public health organizations and life sciences companies to accelerate the integration of genomic data into patient care and public health decision making. Learn more at www.helix.com.