Utah's Intermountain Healthcare Kicks Off the Largest DNA Mapping Project in America

Updated July 2, 2019

Utah's Intermountain Healthcare plans to launch an impressive study that will take a look at the DNA of individuals to determine if they're more prone to certain diseases. The study is free, and the plans are to have half a million volunteers consent to having their DNA collected. 

The goal behind this study is to improve the way healthcare providers prescribe medications, derive treatment plans and many other processes in the healthcare field. 

Who Is Eligible? 

The study is completely voluntary and it's available to individuals 18 years and older. They must be part of the Intermountain Healthcare service area, which operates in Utah and Idaho. If interested, individuals can consent to the study at a regularly scheduled blood drawing at any clinic participating in the study. 

If there is no upcoming blood draw scheduled, individuals who qualify can schedule one for the test. Two vials, approximately 2.5 teaspoons of blood total, are needed for the test. 

What Happens to the Samples? 

Once the samples are collected, they are sent to deCODE, a group of experts in Iceland that focus on learning more about the human genome. The samples will be analyzed by these experts to see if there are any risks of diseases. If there are known risks, genetic counselors will work with the participant to go over the next steps that should be taken. 

Before the samples are sent to deCODE, the participant's information is scrubbed, making the samples completely anonymous. The only ones that will have access to the individual's information are the Intermountain's healthcare providers, and then only with written consent provided by the participant. The samples are stored in deCODE's and Intermountain's laboratories in locked filing cabinets and password-protected computers. 

How Will This Study Make a Difference? 

The study will help establish a way to bring more personalized healthcare to patients. This will give healthcare providers more information about how each individual's bodies work at processing specific medications for certain illnesses, as noted by The Spectrum

Knowing the right medications to prescribe, as well as the correct dosage cuts down the amount of trial and error when it comes to treating conditions. The study will also allow healthcare providers to know if their patients have any disease-causing variant in their DNA, which in turn, allows them to make more unique healthcare decisions for specific individuals.

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