Can we crack the code to a healthier life? Researchers at AdventHealth are giving consumers potentially lifesaving information about their heart health with a first-of-its-kind DNA study in Florida named “WholeMe.”
Beginning on July 24, 2019, 10,000 people will have the opportunity to join the WholeMe study, in which personal genomics company Helix will sequence the participants’ DNA.
Every participant will be screened for the genes linked to familial hypercholesterolemia, known as “FH.” FH is a life-threatening genetic condition that causes high cholesterol. If left untreated, it can lead to cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, even in young adults.
“Genomics is core to our mission as we seek to redefine health care and create a consumer-centered system that’s built on the principles of whole-person health, prevention, and wellness,” said Daryl Tol, president and CEO of AdventHealth’s Central Florida Division. “From disease prevention to diagnosis to treatment, genomics is the future of medicine. It will be an essential component of health care in the years ahead, and AdventHealth is proud to partner with Helix to bring this opportunity to Florida.”
While the study is open to all adults who live in Florida, the enrollment sites are based in the Orlando area. Researchers will check in with participants six months after they receive their DNA results. Thanks to generous community support through AdventHealth Foundation Central Florida, there is no cost for participants to join the study.
AdventHealth is launching WholeMe in partnership with California-based Helix, which uses proprietary next-generation sequencing technology, called Exome+, to enable health systems and research institutions to deliver scalable and impactful genomic services to their communities.
Helix is also a partner in the Healthy Nevada Project, a study similar to WholeMe. To date, of the nearly 30,000 people tested for FH, more than 115 have learned they are at high risk. More than 90 percent of those participants would not have been diagnosed under current medical practice.
“We believe everyone benefits from knowing more about their genetics, with actionable insights that can lead to people living healthier lives,” said James Lu, co-founder and senior vice president of Applied Genomics at Helix. “Our partnership with AdventHealth, and in particular the WholeMe study, will empower individuals with information about how their genetics could impact their heart health. AdventHealth is at the leading edge of offering these insights to the community. By leveraging Helix’s population health solutions together, we will be able to provide individuals with insights about how their DNA impacts their overall well-being.”
WholeMe will do more than help Floridians learn about genetic conditions that impact their health. Researchers will also gain insight on how consumers respond — in the short and long term — to knowing their genomic information.
“Genomics stands to have as great an impact on medicine as penicillin and radiology in earlier decades,” said Steven Smith, chief scientific officer of the AdventHealth Research Institute. “These genomic insights will be essential to how people live and the decisions we make. We are not only learning important information from participants; we're also empowering them to change their behaviors and hopefully mitigate their risks for disease.”
Earlier this year, AdventHealth Orlando began laying the foundation for its comprehensive genomics program — AdventHealth Genomics & Personalized Health — which will ultimately provide comprehensive genomics testing, analysis, interpretation, and genetic counseling services.