FORTY FORT, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Geisinger Health System is making more strides in its genetic research. It’s helping develop precision or targeted medicine to treat patients by using their genetic code. Geisinger Health System started its genome project in 2006. It’s taking its research efforts to a greater level to treat and even prevent future disease.
Geisinger’s decade-old genome project called ‘My Code’ aims to unlock secrets of our genetic make-up to better predict, diagnose and treat cancer and cardiovascular diseases. More than 120,000 Geisinger patients to date have voluntarily provided DNA samples used in breakthrough research results.
“We’re finding disease-causing variance or mutations in a gene that puts you at much higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer,” said Geisinger Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. David Ledbetter. Speaking at Geisinger’s Precision Health Center in Forty Fort on Thursday, Dr. Ledbetter said the findings mean more than detecting early stage cancers. It can also help determine if a patient’s other family members may be at increased risk. “So we can watch them more closely and try to avoid the more severe forms or even lethal forms of those cancers.”
Geisinger Clinical Geneticist Dr. Murugu Manickam, MD showed me a chart called a pedigree. It illustrates the genome mapping of a family tree. He calls the My Code progress mind-boggling. “Even here in the last two years the pace has outweighed what anyone could have expected.”
Now, Geisinger is joining seven other health care providers to participate in the Precision Medicine Initiative. It’s a one million person strong national genome study. By being chosen for the Precision Medicine Initiative, Geisinger believes what it’s already learned in its decade of research will fuel further breakthroughs. “It will accelerate our discovery research and hopefully things that improve health and well being of our patients and all other patients,” said Dr. Ledbetter.
Unlike Geisinger’s My Code project, the Precision Medicine Initiative is open to all volunteer subjects. You can learn more about Geisinger’s genomic research by clicking here. You can register as a participant by emailing JoinMyCode@geisinger.edu or by calling 855-636-0019.