Pumping up genomics: how to engineer better NGS sample prep systems

With high-throughput genomics impacting every corner of biology, the demand for more efficient Next-generation sequencing (NGS) workflows is growing rapidly. Automating the process of NGS sample preparation is crucial to avoid inaccuracies due to human error, bottlenecks that delay sequencing results, and the additional expense of re-running sequences. What are the most important factors for an engineer to consider when selecting a pump to meet the stringent performance required for an automated NGS library preparation system?

Spotlight

Vericel Corporation

Founded in 1989, Vericel (formerly Aastrom Biosciences), is dedicated to the development of patient-specific expanded cellular therapies for use in the treatment of patients with severe diseases and conditions. The company markets two cell therapy products in the United States, Carticel® (autologous cultured chondrocytes), an autologous chondrocyte implant for the treatment of cartilage defects in the knee and Epicel® (cultured epidermal autografts), a permanent skin replacement for the treatment of patients with deep dermal or full thickness burns greater than or equal to 30% of total body surface area. Vericel is also developing MACI, a third-generation autologous chondrocyte implant for the treatment of cartilage defects in the knee, and ixmyelocel-T, a patient specific multicellular therapy for the treatment of advanced heart failure due to ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

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MedTech

Data Analytics: A Groundbreaking Technology in Biotech

Article | July 20, 2022

Biotechnology is a vast discipline of biology that employs diverse biological systems to create solutions that can significantly alter the ways in which they operate across various domains. That said, biotechnology is not a new notion. It has existed for millennia, with ancient civilizations using its earliest incarnations to cultivate crops and create alcoholic beverages. Today, the biotechnology industry has developed by leaps and bounds and has amassed a vast quantity of scientific data through study and research. Given the importance of data in the biotechnology business, it is not difficult to understand why biotech companies utilize data analytics. Modern data analytics tools have made it possible for researchers in the biotech industry to build predictive analytics models and gain knowledge about the most efficient approaches to accomplish their desired goals and objectives. Data analytics is increasingly being adopted by biotech businesses to better understand their industry and foresee any problems down the road. How is Data Analytics Revolutionizing Fields in Biotechnology? Today's business and scientific fields greatly benefit from data. Without the analysis of vast information libraries that provide new insights and enable new innovations, no industry can really advance. Being highly reliant on big data analytics, biotech is not an exception in this regard. With the tools and methods that help scientists systematize their findings and speed up their research for better and safer results, data analytics is making deeper inroads into the biotechnology industry. It is emerging as a crucial link between knowledge and information and is extensively being used for purposes other than just examining the information that is already available. The following are a few of the cutting-edge biotechnology applications of data analytics Genomics and Disease Treatment Pharmaceutical Drug Discovery Drug Recycling and Safety Agriculture and Agri-products Environmental Damage Mitigation Data Analytics Possibilities in Biotechnology With data analytics becoming an integral part of how biotech businesses operate, biotechnologists and related stakeholders need to understand its emergence and crucial role. Data analytics has opened new frontiers in the realm of biotechnology. Thanks to developments in data analytics, research and development activities that once took years may now be accomplished in a matter of months. Also, now scientists have access to biological, social, and environmental insights that can be exploited to create more effective and sustainable products. By understanding the importance of data-related tools and techniques applications, biotech companies are aiming to invest in the popularizing technology to stay updated in the fast-paced biotechnology industry.

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MedTech

Advancement in Genomics Accelerating its Penetration into Precision Health

Article | July 11, 2022

Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of biology emphasizing the structure, editing, evolution, function, and mapping of genomes. It is creating deeper inroads across the precision health domain with the increasing introduction of advanced technologies such as quantum simulation, next-generation sequencing (NGS), and precise genome manipulation. As precision health focuses on providing the proper intervention to the right patient at the right time, genomics increasingly finds applications in human and pathogen genome sequencing in clinical and research spaces. Rising Hereditary Diseases Burden Paving the Way for Genomics in Precision Health In the last few years, a significant surge in the prevalence of diseases and ailments such as diabetes, obesity, baldness, and others has been witnessed across the globe. A history of family members with chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, hearing issues, and heart disease, can sometimes continue into the next generation. Hence, the study of genes is extensively being conducted for predicting health risks and early treatment of these diseases. It also finds use in CRISPR-based diagnostics and the preparation of precision medication for the individual. In addition, ongoing advancements in genomics are making it possible to identify different genetic traits that persuade people to more widespread diseases and health problems. The Emergence of Genomics Improves Disease Understanding Genomics refers to the study of the complete genetic makeup of a cell or organism. Increasing scientific research in the area substantially contributes to increasing knowledge about the human genome and assists in improving the ability to understand disease etiology, risk, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. On account of these improvements, innovative genomic technologies and tools are being developed to enable better precision health not only for the individual but for various regional populations as well. The Way Forward With growing preference for personalized medicine and an increasing need for more accurate pathogen detection and diagnostics, genomics is gaining huge popularity across the precision health domain. Also, increasing research activities for developing novel high-precision therapeutics and rising importance of gene study in the prevention, diagnosis, and management of infectious and genetic diseases will further pave the way for genomics in the forthcoming years.

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Research

Next-Gen Genetics Cancer Therapies Creating Investment Prospects

Article | July 11, 2022

Genetic therapeutics such as genetic engineering and gene therapy are increasingly emerging as one of the most influential and transformed biotechnological solutions around the globe in recent times. These genetic solutions are being assessed across various medical domains, including cancer treatment, neurology, oncology, and ophthalmology. Citing the trend, the genetics industry is estimated to experience a tsunami of approvals, with over 1,000 cell and gene therapy clinical trials currently underway and over 900 companies worldwide focusing on these cutting-edge therapies. Growing Cancer Encourages Advancements in Genetic Technologies With the surging cases of cancers such as leukemias, carcinomas, lymphomas, and others, patients worldwide are increasing their spending on adopting novel therapeutic solutions for non-recurring treatment of the disease, such as gene therapy, genetic engineering, T-cell therapy, and gene editing. As per a study by the Fight Cancer Organization, spending on the treatment of cancer increased to $200.7 billion, and the amount is anticipated to exceed $245 billion by the end of 2030. Growing revenue prospects are encouraging biotechnology and biopharmaceutical companies to develop novel genetic solutions for cancer treatment. For instance, Bristol-Myers Squibb K.K., a Japanese pharmaceutical company, introduced a B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-directed chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapy, Abecma, for the treatment of relapsed or refractory (R/R) multiple myeloma in 2022. Amid a New Market: Genetics Will Attract Massive Investments Despite several developments and technological advancements, genetics is still considered to be in a nascent stage, providing significant prospects for growth to the companies that are already operating in the domain. Genetics solutions such as gene therapies, gene editing, and T-cell immunotherapy are emerging as highly active treatments across various medical fields, resulting in increasing research and development activities across the domain, drawing significant attention from investors. Given the potential of genetic treatments and the focus on finding new ways to treat cancer and other related diseases, it's easy to understand why companies are investing in the domain. For instance, Pfizer has recently announced an investment of around $800 million to construct development facilities supporting gene therapy manufacturing from initial preclinical research through final commercial-scale production. Due to these advancements, cell and gene therapies are forecast to grow from $4 billion annually to more than $45 billion, exhibiting growth at a 63% CAGR. The Future of Genetics Though there is a significant rise in advancement in genetic technologies and developments, the number of approved genetic treatments remains extremely small. However, with gene transfer and CRISPR solutions emerging as new modalities for cancer treatment, the start-up companies will attract a growing amount and proportion of private and public investments. This is expected present a tremendous opportunity for biopharma and biotechnology investors to help fund and benefit from the medical industry's shift from traditional treatments to cutting-edge genetic therapeutics in the coming years.

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Medical

Laboratory Information Management System for Biotech Labs: Significance & Benefits

Article | August 16, 2022

If you have ever visited the testing laboratory of a large biotechnology company, you will be aware that managing the laboratory's operations single-handedly is no easy task. The greater the size of a lab, the more research and testing activities it must accommodate. A variety of diagnostic tests are prescribed for patients in order to detect various diseases. For example, it may include blood glucose testing for diabetics, lipid panel, or liver panel tests for evaluating cardiac risk and liver function, cultures for diagnosing infections, thyroid function tests, and others. Laboratory management solutions such as laboratory information management systems (LIMS) and other software play a significant role in managing various operational data at biotech laboratories. It is one of the important types of software developed to address thedata management and regulatory challenges of laboratories. The software enhances the operational efficiency of biotech labs by streamlining workflows, proper record-keeping, and eradicating the need for manually maintaining data. What Are the Benefits of Laboratory Information Management Software in Biotechnology? As the trends of digitization and technology continue to create deeper inroads into the biotechnology sector, a significant rise in the adoption of innovative medical software solutions, such as LIMS, is being witnessed for managing research data, testing reports, and post-research results globally. Here are a few reasons that are encouraging biotech facilities to adopt LIMS solutions Real-Time Data Collection and Tracking Previously, collecting and transporting samples was a tedious and time-consuming task. However, the adoption of LIMS with innovative tracking modules has made the job easier. The real-time sample tracking feature of LIMS has made it possible for personnel to collect the research data in real-time and manage and control the workflow with a few mouse clicks on the screen. Increase Revenue LIMS makes it possible to test workflows while giving users complete control over the testing process. A laboratory is able to collect data, schedule equipment maintenance or upgrades, enhance operational efficiency, and maintain a lower overhead with the help of the LIMS, thereby increasing revenue. Streamlined Workflow With its completion monitoring, LIMS speeds up laboratory workflows and keeps track of information. It assigns tasks to the specialist along with keeping a real-time track of the status and completion of each task. LIMS is integrated into the laboratory using lab information, which ultimately speeds up internal processes and streamlines the workflow. Automatic Data Exchange LIMS solutions store data in a centralized database. Automated transfer of data between departments and organizations is one of the major features of LIMS. Through its automated information exchange feature, LIMS improves internal operations, decreases the reporting time for data sharing, and assists in faster decision-making. Final Thoughts As the healthcare sector continues to ride the wave of digital transformation, biotech laboratories are emphasizing adopting newer technologies to keep up with the changes. Citing this trend, laboratory information management systems are becoming crucial for biotech and medical organizations for maintaining research data, instant reporting, and managing confidential, inventory, and financial data with centralized data storage.

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Spotlight

Vericel Corporation

Founded in 1989, Vericel (formerly Aastrom Biosciences), is dedicated to the development of patient-specific expanded cellular therapies for use in the treatment of patients with severe diseases and conditions. The company markets two cell therapy products in the United States, Carticel® (autologous cultured chondrocytes), an autologous chondrocyte implant for the treatment of cartilage defects in the knee and Epicel® (cultured epidermal autografts), a permanent skin replacement for the treatment of patients with deep dermal or full thickness burns greater than or equal to 30% of total body surface area. Vericel is also developing MACI, a third-generation autologous chondrocyte implant for the treatment of cartilage defects in the knee, and ixmyelocel-T, a patient specific multicellular therapy for the treatment of advanced heart failure due to ischemic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

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Medical

AXIM Biotech Develops Rapid Quantitative Tear Test for MMP-9, An Inflammatory Biomarker of Dry Eye Disease

AXIM Biotech | March 10, 2022

AXIM Biotechnologies, Inc (OTCQB: AXIM) (“AXIM Biotech,” “AXIM” or “the Company”), an international healthcare solutions company targeting dry eye disease (DED), today announced that it has successfully developed a rapid quantitative tear test for MMP-9, an inflammatory biomarker for Dry Eye Disease. Dry Eye Disease, though widespread, is under-diagnosed, in part because symptoms do not always correlate with objective signs. It has a highly variable symptom profile at different stages of the disease, and there is often a discordance between signs and symptoms. A patient can have severe symptoms yet show no sign of ocular surface damage, while others have advanced ocular surface damage, yet report no symptoms. This lack of correlation between clinical signs and symptoms of Dry Eye Disease makes diagnosing and treating patients a challenge. Often times, inflammation is present before the clinical signs of Dry Eye Disease. The challenge has been in early detection of inflammation. Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), an inflammatory biomarker consistently elevated in the tears of dry eye patients, may accelerate early diagnosis when detected. The central role of inflammation in ocular surface disease is widely recognized, but our ability to measure this in the clinic has been limited to the InflammaDry test that measures tear matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) levels and provides a positive/negative result around a threshold of 40ng/ml of MMP-9. This 'yes or no' report has clinical value, but it is limited. Currently available MMP-9 testing does not detect a reduction in tear MMP-9 levels until the concentration drops below 40ng/ml and thus may miss clinically significant improvement that did not reach that threshold.” Dr. Joseph Tauber, AXIM’s Chief Medical Officer. The clinical benefits of the quantitative test for MMP-9 as a tool for accurate diagnosis of Dry Eye Disease and subsequent treatment include more accurate pre-surgical and post-surgical outcomes. Post-surgical complications, such as corneal wound healing, is facilitated by identifying dry eye prior to surgery. The availability of quantitative tear MMP-9 testing would be a significant advance in our ability to measure the degree of inflammation affecting our dry eye patients, allowing for more objective classification of their disease, Equally important would be the ability to measure improvement in control of inflammation that is the goal of many of our therapies for ocular surface disease, including pharmaceuticals, thermal pulsation treatments and even light based therapies.” Dr. Joseph Tauber. Some reports indicate that nearly half of all U.S. adults experience dry eye symptoms and 33% of patients in eye care clinics present with complaints about dry eye. Given the size of the market, AXIM made the strategic decision to develop a test for MMP-9 to assist in early detection of Dry Eye Disease. Together with our Lactoferrin and IgE Tests and now with the addition of our MMP-9 Test, AXIM will be positioned to corner the market for Dry Eye Disease diagnostic testing.” John Huemoeller, AXIM’s CEO. About AXIM® Biotechnologies Founded in 2014, AXIM® Biotechnologies, Inc. (AXIM) is a vertically integrated research and development company focused on improving the landscape for diagnosis of ophthalmological conditions such as Dry Eye Disease (DED) through rapid diagnostic tests. Additionally, it owns IP and has conducted research on SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) rapid neutralizing antibody tests to detect levels of functional neutralizing antibodies that are believed to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering the host cells, as well as for oncological indications.

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Cell and Gene Therapy

Childhood Trauma and Genetics Linked to Increased Obesity Risk

DRI | March 10, 2022

New research from the Healthy Nevada Project® found associations between genetics, obesity, and childhood trauma, linking social health determinants, genetics, and disease. The study, which was published this week in Frontiers in Genetics, found that participants with specific genetic traits and who experience childhood traumas are more likely to suffer from adult obesity. In 2016, DRI and Renown Health launched the Healthy Nevada Project®, the nation’s first community-based, population health study, which now has more than 60,000 participants. The project is a collaboration with personal genomics company, Helix, and combines genetic, environmental, social, and clinical data to address individual and community health needs with the goal of improving health across the state and the nation. The new study focuses on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which are traumatic and unsafe events that children endure by the age of 18. Over 16,000 participants in the Healthy Nevada Project® answered a mental health survey, and more than 65 percent of these individuals self-reported at least one ACE occurrence. These 16,000 participants were cross-referenced with their genetic makeup, and clinical Body Mass Index (BMI) measures. According to the research team’s findings, study participants who had experienced one or more types of ACE were 1.5 times more likely to become obese adults. Participants who experienced four or more ACEs were more than twice as likely to become severely obese. Our analysis showed a steady increase in BMI for each ACE a person experienced, which indicates a very strong and significant association between the number of adverse childhood experiences and adult obesity, More importantly, participants’ BMI reacted even more strongly to the occurrence of ACEs when paired with certain mutations in several genes, one of which is strongly associated with schizophrenia.” lead author Karen Schlauch, Ph.D., of DRI. We know that genetics affect disease in the Healthy Nevada Project®, and now we are recognizing that ACEs also affect disease, Our new study shows that the combination of genes and environmental factors like ACEs, as well as many social determinants of health, can lead to more serious health outcomes than either variable alone. More broadly, this new work emphasizes how important it is for population genetic studies to consider the impact of social determinants on health outcomes.” Healthy Nevada Project® Principal Investigator Joseph Grzymski, Ph.D., of DRI and Renown Health. The study team believes that it is important for clinical caregivers to understand the strong impact that negative childhood experiences such as ACEs can have on both child and adult health. The researchers hope the information from this study will encourage doctors and nurses to conduct simple screenings for ACEs and consider a patient’s social environment and history in combination with genetics when developing treatment plans for better patient health. According to the 2019 Youth Behavior Risk Survey (YRBS), 25.6 percent of Washoe County teenagers are overweight or obese. Obesity is a serious health concern for children and adolescents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obese children and adolescents are more likely to become obese as adults. Obese and overweight children and adolescents are at risk for multiple health problems during their youth, which are likely to be more severe as adults, Obese and overweight youth are more likely to have risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Losing weight, in addition to a healthy diet, helps to prevent and control multiple chronic diseases and improves quality of life for a lifetime.” Max J. Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA, FAAP, Nell J Redfield Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Nevada Reno School of Medicine, Physician in Chief of Renown Children's Hospital. We’d like to thank all of the Healthy Nevada Project® participants who provided information to make our work possible, Our research illustrates that it’s not just genetics that cause disease, but that our environment and life experiences interact with our genes to impact our health in ways that we are only beginning to understand.” Robert Read, M.S., of DRI. About DRI The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is a recognized world leader in basic and applied environmental research. Committed to scientific excellence and integrity, DRI faculty, students who work alongside them, and staff have developed scientific knowledge and innovative technologies in research projects around the globe. Since 1959, DRI’s research has advanced scientific knowledge on topics ranging from humans’ impact on the environment to the environment’s impact on humans. DRI’s impactful science and inspiring solutions support Nevada’s diverse economy, provide science-based educational opportunities, and inform policymakers, business leaders, and community members. With campuses in Las Vegas and Reno, DRI serves as the non-profit research arm of the Nevada System of Higher Education.

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Medical

HealthPartners, Helix partner to create DNA testing program that helps families better understand their genetic health

Helix | March 09, 2022

HealthPartners and leading genomics company, Helix, are launching myGenetics, a population genomics program that will provide important health information to families across Minnesota and surrounding states. The myGenetics program hopes to enroll more than 100,000 participants over four years. Genomic data generated will be integrated with patient health records and shared during their personal clinical care. Through the partnership, HealthPartners will be able to identify risk earlier and potentially mitigate serious disease. In similar programs, as many as 1 in 75 participants were found to be at risk for a serious health issue, of which 90 percent would not have been discovered through traditional practice. We see population genomics as a critical step in our efforts to improve the health of the communities we serve across Minnesota and surrounding states, By understanding the role genetics play in an individual's health, we can deliver more personalized care and improve the lives of our patients." Steve Connelly, MD, co-executive medical director at HealthPartners. The program aligns with HealthPartners ongoing drive to deliver simple, personalized, affordable care. The program will be strictly voluntary and will come at no cost to the patient. It's a partnership both HealthPartners and Helix say will help advance precision medicine and greater health equity. We are thrilled to partner deeply with one of the leading integrated delivery networks in the nation. We are excited to enable population access to preventable and actionable genetic insights and to empower providers and patients to make more informed medical decisions, The partnership will also generate cutting edge insights on the best ways to improve quality outcomes, close care gaps and lower the cost of care." James Lu, MD, PhD, CEO and co-founder of Helix. HealthPartners will leverage Helix's end-to-end genomic platform and unique Sequence Once, Query OftenTM model. It allows patient access to genetic data in a cost-efficient manner while also advancing ongoing genomics research. Helix has helped to launch similar programs at the Mayo Clinic, Renown Health and most recently, the Medical University of South Carolina. About Helix Helix is the leading population genomics and viral surveillance company operating at the intersection of clinical care, research, and data analytics. Through its CLIA / CAP laboratory, its end-to-end workflow, and data analytics platforms, Helix enables health systems, life sciences companies, payers, and government partners to accelerate the integration of genomic data into patient care and public health decision making. About HealthPartners HealthPartners is dedicated to improving health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. As an integrated health system, it provides care to more than one million patients and coverage to more than 1.8 million medical and dental health plan members nationwide. HealthPartners also provides medical education and conducts research through HealthPartners Institute.

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Medical

AXIM Biotech Develops Rapid Quantitative Tear Test for MMP-9, An Inflammatory Biomarker of Dry Eye Disease

AXIM Biotech | March 10, 2022

AXIM Biotechnologies, Inc (OTCQB: AXIM) (“AXIM Biotech,” “AXIM” or “the Company”), an international healthcare solutions company targeting dry eye disease (DED), today announced that it has successfully developed a rapid quantitative tear test for MMP-9, an inflammatory biomarker for Dry Eye Disease. Dry Eye Disease, though widespread, is under-diagnosed, in part because symptoms do not always correlate with objective signs. It has a highly variable symptom profile at different stages of the disease, and there is often a discordance between signs and symptoms. A patient can have severe symptoms yet show no sign of ocular surface damage, while others have advanced ocular surface damage, yet report no symptoms. This lack of correlation between clinical signs and symptoms of Dry Eye Disease makes diagnosing and treating patients a challenge. Often times, inflammation is present before the clinical signs of Dry Eye Disease. The challenge has been in early detection of inflammation. Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), an inflammatory biomarker consistently elevated in the tears of dry eye patients, may accelerate early diagnosis when detected. The central role of inflammation in ocular surface disease is widely recognized, but our ability to measure this in the clinic has been limited to the InflammaDry test that measures tear matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) levels and provides a positive/negative result around a threshold of 40ng/ml of MMP-9. This 'yes or no' report has clinical value, but it is limited. Currently available MMP-9 testing does not detect a reduction in tear MMP-9 levels until the concentration drops below 40ng/ml and thus may miss clinically significant improvement that did not reach that threshold.” Dr. Joseph Tauber, AXIM’s Chief Medical Officer. The clinical benefits of the quantitative test for MMP-9 as a tool for accurate diagnosis of Dry Eye Disease and subsequent treatment include more accurate pre-surgical and post-surgical outcomes. Post-surgical complications, such as corneal wound healing, is facilitated by identifying dry eye prior to surgery. The availability of quantitative tear MMP-9 testing would be a significant advance in our ability to measure the degree of inflammation affecting our dry eye patients, allowing for more objective classification of their disease, Equally important would be the ability to measure improvement in control of inflammation that is the goal of many of our therapies for ocular surface disease, including pharmaceuticals, thermal pulsation treatments and even light based therapies.” Dr. Joseph Tauber. Some reports indicate that nearly half of all U.S. adults experience dry eye symptoms and 33% of patients in eye care clinics present with complaints about dry eye. Given the size of the market, AXIM made the strategic decision to develop a test for MMP-9 to assist in early detection of Dry Eye Disease. Together with our Lactoferrin and IgE Tests and now with the addition of our MMP-9 Test, AXIM will be positioned to corner the market for Dry Eye Disease diagnostic testing.” John Huemoeller, AXIM’s CEO. About AXIM® Biotechnologies Founded in 2014, AXIM® Biotechnologies, Inc. (AXIM) is a vertically integrated research and development company focused on improving the landscape for diagnosis of ophthalmological conditions such as Dry Eye Disease (DED) through rapid diagnostic tests. Additionally, it owns IP and has conducted research on SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) rapid neutralizing antibody tests to detect levels of functional neutralizing antibodies that are believed to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering the host cells, as well as for oncological indications.

Read More

Cell and Gene Therapy

Childhood Trauma and Genetics Linked to Increased Obesity Risk

DRI | March 10, 2022

New research from the Healthy Nevada Project® found associations between genetics, obesity, and childhood trauma, linking social health determinants, genetics, and disease. The study, which was published this week in Frontiers in Genetics, found that participants with specific genetic traits and who experience childhood traumas are more likely to suffer from adult obesity. In 2016, DRI and Renown Health launched the Healthy Nevada Project®, the nation’s first community-based, population health study, which now has more than 60,000 participants. The project is a collaboration with personal genomics company, Helix, and combines genetic, environmental, social, and clinical data to address individual and community health needs with the goal of improving health across the state and the nation. The new study focuses on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which are traumatic and unsafe events that children endure by the age of 18. Over 16,000 participants in the Healthy Nevada Project® answered a mental health survey, and more than 65 percent of these individuals self-reported at least one ACE occurrence. These 16,000 participants were cross-referenced with their genetic makeup, and clinical Body Mass Index (BMI) measures. According to the research team’s findings, study participants who had experienced one or more types of ACE were 1.5 times more likely to become obese adults. Participants who experienced four or more ACEs were more than twice as likely to become severely obese. Our analysis showed a steady increase in BMI for each ACE a person experienced, which indicates a very strong and significant association between the number of adverse childhood experiences and adult obesity, More importantly, participants’ BMI reacted even more strongly to the occurrence of ACEs when paired with certain mutations in several genes, one of which is strongly associated with schizophrenia.” lead author Karen Schlauch, Ph.D., of DRI. We know that genetics affect disease in the Healthy Nevada Project®, and now we are recognizing that ACEs also affect disease, Our new study shows that the combination of genes and environmental factors like ACEs, as well as many social determinants of health, can lead to more serious health outcomes than either variable alone. More broadly, this new work emphasizes how important it is for population genetic studies to consider the impact of social determinants on health outcomes.” Healthy Nevada Project® Principal Investigator Joseph Grzymski, Ph.D., of DRI and Renown Health. The study team believes that it is important for clinical caregivers to understand the strong impact that negative childhood experiences such as ACEs can have on both child and adult health. The researchers hope the information from this study will encourage doctors and nurses to conduct simple screenings for ACEs and consider a patient’s social environment and history in combination with genetics when developing treatment plans for better patient health. According to the 2019 Youth Behavior Risk Survey (YRBS), 25.6 percent of Washoe County teenagers are overweight or obese. Obesity is a serious health concern for children and adolescents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obese children and adolescents are more likely to become obese as adults. Obese and overweight children and adolescents are at risk for multiple health problems during their youth, which are likely to be more severe as adults, Obese and overweight youth are more likely to have risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Losing weight, in addition to a healthy diet, helps to prevent and control multiple chronic diseases and improves quality of life for a lifetime.” Max J. Coppes, MD, PhD, MBA, FAAP, Nell J Redfield Chair of Pediatrics at the University of Nevada Reno School of Medicine, Physician in Chief of Renown Children's Hospital. We’d like to thank all of the Healthy Nevada Project® participants who provided information to make our work possible, Our research illustrates that it’s not just genetics that cause disease, but that our environment and life experiences interact with our genes to impact our health in ways that we are only beginning to understand.” Robert Read, M.S., of DRI. About DRI The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is a recognized world leader in basic and applied environmental research. Committed to scientific excellence and integrity, DRI faculty, students who work alongside them, and staff have developed scientific knowledge and innovative technologies in research projects around the globe. Since 1959, DRI’s research has advanced scientific knowledge on topics ranging from humans’ impact on the environment to the environment’s impact on humans. DRI’s impactful science and inspiring solutions support Nevada’s diverse economy, provide science-based educational opportunities, and inform policymakers, business leaders, and community members. With campuses in Las Vegas and Reno, DRI serves as the non-profit research arm of the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Read More

Medical

HealthPartners, Helix partner to create DNA testing program that helps families better understand their genetic health

Helix | March 09, 2022

HealthPartners and leading genomics company, Helix, are launching myGenetics, a population genomics program that will provide important health information to families across Minnesota and surrounding states. The myGenetics program hopes to enroll more than 100,000 participants over four years. Genomic data generated will be integrated with patient health records and shared during their personal clinical care. Through the partnership, HealthPartners will be able to identify risk earlier and potentially mitigate serious disease. In similar programs, as many as 1 in 75 participants were found to be at risk for a serious health issue, of which 90 percent would not have been discovered through traditional practice. We see population genomics as a critical step in our efforts to improve the health of the communities we serve across Minnesota and surrounding states, By understanding the role genetics play in an individual's health, we can deliver more personalized care and improve the lives of our patients." Steve Connelly, MD, co-executive medical director at HealthPartners. The program aligns with HealthPartners ongoing drive to deliver simple, personalized, affordable care. The program will be strictly voluntary and will come at no cost to the patient. It's a partnership both HealthPartners and Helix say will help advance precision medicine and greater health equity. We are thrilled to partner deeply with one of the leading integrated delivery networks in the nation. We are excited to enable population access to preventable and actionable genetic insights and to empower providers and patients to make more informed medical decisions, The partnership will also generate cutting edge insights on the best ways to improve quality outcomes, close care gaps and lower the cost of care." James Lu, MD, PhD, CEO and co-founder of Helix. HealthPartners will leverage Helix's end-to-end genomic platform and unique Sequence Once, Query OftenTM model. It allows patient access to genetic data in a cost-efficient manner while also advancing ongoing genomics research. Helix has helped to launch similar programs at the Mayo Clinic, Renown Health and most recently, the Medical University of South Carolina. About Helix Helix is the leading population genomics and viral surveillance company operating at the intersection of clinical care, research, and data analytics. Through its CLIA / CAP laboratory, its end-to-end workflow, and data analytics platforms, Helix enables health systems, life sciences companies, payers, and government partners to accelerate the integration of genomic data into patient care and public health decision making. About HealthPartners HealthPartners is dedicated to improving health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community. As an integrated health system, it provides care to more than one million patients and coverage to more than 1.8 million medical and dental health plan members nationwide. HealthPartners also provides medical education and conducts research through HealthPartners Institute.

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