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Intermountain Healthcare & deCODE Genetics Form Alliance to Identify Disease Before it Happens

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Disease Management

Utah doctors believe effort will help Utahns with inherited risks avoid cancers and other illneses.  Utahns are making history,reports the Deseret News.  Intermountain Healthcare reports it has partnered with Icelandic-based deCODE genetics, an Amgen subsidiary and a global leader in human genetics to analyze 500,000 patients through its network of clinics and hospitals in Utah and Idaho over the next five years.

The HerediGene: Population Study 

The study has already begun collecting samples from consenting patients across Utah, and researchers expect to publish the data derived from the study along the way. The samples will be de-identified and made anonymous for the study.

HerediGene: Population Study is a large-scale collaboration between Intermountain Healthcare and deCODE genetics focused on discovering new connections between genetics and human disease.

Teams from the two organizations will analyze the complete DNA of 500,000 participants from Intermountain’s patient population to help medical professionals better understand the human genome and enhance their ability to prevent diseases such as breast cancer, colon cancer and heart disease. The collaboration combines Intermountain’s internationally-recognized expertise in precision medicine and clinical care with deCODE’s world-class expertise in human population genetics. The project will be the largest and most comprehensive DNA mapping effort to date in the U.S. from a single population.

Patients will be Notified

Dr. Lincoln Nadauld, chief of precision health and an oncologist at Intermountain, said if they do identify a gene that exhibits a health risk, those individuals will be notified and connected with Intermountain genetic counselors for the proper screening and treatment.

deCODE Genetics 

deCode Genetics is a biopharmaceutical company based in ReykjavíkIceland. The company was founded in 1996 by Kári Stefánsson to identify human genes associated with common diseases using population studies, and apply the knowledge gained to guide the development of candidate drugs. The company isolated genes believed to be involved in cardiovascular disease, cancer and schizophrenia, among other diseases (the company’s research concerning the latter is said to represent the first time a gene has been identified by two independent studies to be associated with schizophrenia).

deCODE’s approach to identifying genes, and in particular its proposal to set up an Icelandic Health Sector Database (HSD) containing the medical records of all Icelanders, was controversial, and prompted national and international criticism for its approach to the concepts of privacy and consent.

The company was removed from the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index in November 2008. In November 2009 the company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in a US court, listing total assets of $69.9 million and debt of $313.9 million. According to American law, deCODE was allowed to continue its operations. In January 2010 most of deCODE genetics Inc.’s assets were purchased by Saga Investments LLC – an investment company whose owners include Polaris Venture Partners and ARCH Venture Partners – who said they intended to continue most services including deCODE diagnostics and deCODEme™ personal genome scans and management team.

In December 2012, deCODE genetics was purchased by Amgen for $415 million which in October 2013 spun off deCODE genetics’ systems and database to a new company called NextCODE Health which in turn was acquired in January 2015 by the Chinese company WuXi PharmaTech for $65 million.

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