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Genetic Study Identifies Patient Health Risks

A picture of DNA.
Max Pixel, licensed for public domain use
DNA strand.

About 35,000 Nevadans have already received no-cost genetic testing through the Healthy Nevada Project. KUNR’s Anh Gray reports researchers have new findings to share.

The project launched about two years ago and is a collaboration between Renown Health and the Desert Research Institute to study population health. The study examines how genetics, combined with factors like environmental data, socioeconomic determinants and personal healthcare, can predict who may be at risk for disease.

Joe Grzymski is the lead investigator with the Healthy Nevada Project.

“The study has reached a milestone,” Grzymski explains, “in that we now are returning clinically relevant results back to participants, who have consented.”

Earlier this year, the project partnered up with Helix, a company that uses gene sequencing technology. Grzymski says this sequencing helped identify mutations.

“It allows us to look into the genes that are responsible, mutations in those genes that are responsible,” Grzymski says, “for risks for really significant diseases.”

Specifically, researchers were able to identify patients with a risk for certain diseases. Those include: breast or ovarian cancer, familial hypercholesterolemia (FH)—which is a genetic disorder characterized by high cholesterol—and lynch syndrome, a genetic disposition for colon cancers.

Grzymski says this testing can help with the early diagnosis, which is especially crucial when effective treatments are available.

Anh is a contributing editor for the KUNR news team and has been with the station since 2014. She is an alumna of the Boston University School of Public Health and Teachers College, Columbia University.
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