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NHS, Genomics PLC to Integrate Polygenic Risk Scores With Traditional Cardiovascular Risk Factors

NEW YORK – Genomics plc and the UK's National Health Service on Tuesday announced a pilot study to look at how integrating polygenic risk scores with more traditional risk assessments in primary care might improve prevention of cardiovascular disease.

The HEART study (Healthcare Evaluation of Absolute Risk Testing) will test an integrated risk tool, combining the Oxford, UK-based genome analysis company's polygenic risk scores with other assessment methods that consider factors like blood pressure, cholesterol levels, body-mass index, and smoking status. The study will look to recruit about 1,000 healthy subjects between the ages of 45 and 64 at 10 GP practices in the North of England.

"Prevention is at the heart of general practice and risk assessment underpins that. Genomic testing can improve our identification of patients who need extra management, screening or treatment, and better personalize those interventions to them," HEART chief investigator Ahmet Fuat, honorary professor of primary care cardiology at Durham University, said in a statement. "Common diseases like cardiovascular disease place a great deal of demand on our resources, and anything that helps us use those more efficiently and effectively is incredibly valuable."

HEART organizers expect to publish final results of their research later this year, but said that their modeling indicated that if such a program were available to all people in the study's age range across England, they would be able to identify 700,000 additional people who might benefit from statin therapy.

"Genomic services [need] to be used more broadly, and in more patients, to drive improvements in care and cost-effectiveness," said Genomics board member Sally Davies, former NHS CMO for England.