Tuesday, September 29, 2009

OSU Med Center joins trial of genetic-based, personalized care

Business First of Columbus

Ohio State University Medical Center is teaming up with a New Jersey research institute for a project that will give 2,000 patients in the area a detailed look at their genetic make-up that researchers hope could help reduce the risk of some diseases.

The medical center on Tuesday announced a partnership with the Camden, N.J.-based Coriell Personalized Medicine Collaborative. That initiative has a goal of mapping out genetic information for 100,000 people and providing disease risk assessments that can be used in health-care decision-making. The first, 10,000-patient phase of the project is roughly halfway complete and Ohio State will play a key role in reaching the 10,000 mark, said Dr. Clay Marsh, executive director of Ohio State’s Center for Personalized Health Care

Patients receive an assessment after supplying a saliva sample, which researchers probe for genetic attributes linked to common diseases, along with information about health, medication use and lifestyle. The collaborative then turns out a customized “risk report” with information on diseases whose risks can be limited by medication or lifestyle changes. The limited set of diseases the risk assessment screens include inherited forms of cancer along with diabetes and heart disease, Marsh said.

Ohio State’s participation in the project represents the first – and only – step outside of New Jersey for the effort, run by the Coriell Institute for Medical Research with the participation of nearby hospitals, health systems and Camden-area residents.

The university’s participation differs in its approach, however, because it’s putting a heavy focus not only on individuals looking to head off potential problems but on those who have them already, Marsh said. For ill patients, the genome study can shed light on how to better line up medication dosage and other treatments with a specific patient’s needs and identify other potential problems.

For patients with a clean bill of health or an existing illness, the research itself is key to the future of treatment as technology equips more patients with genetic information, Marsh said.

“The ultimate goal is to transform what we do today, which is reactive ... to becoming proactive,” he said.

Ohio State hasn’t drawn up a process for enrolling participants for the free assessment, but they’ll be culled from patients of practitioners and other specialists within the OSU health system, the third-largest in Central Ohio. Marsh said the school is looking to get the program up and running by the end of the year, adding that Ohio State could become a part of Coriell’s march from participants 10,001 to 100,000 depending on the progress of the first phase.

More information on the collaborative is available here.


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