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Helix, Medical University of South Carolina Partner for Population Genomics Program

NEW YORK – The Medical University of South Carolina and Helix said Monday that they have partnered to develop a large-scale population genomics initiative in South Carolina called In Our DNA SC.

Beginning this fall, the program will enroll a total of 100,000 patients, providing them with no-cost genetic testing, initially focused on cancer and cardiovascular disease. The goal is to improve healthcare outcomes by integrating genetic insights into both clinical care and research.

Specifically, MUSC intends to use Helix's Sequence Once, Query Often model and end-to-end integration platform to enable the use of genetic insights. Financial terms of the strategic collaboration were not disclosed.

In addition to reporting genetic information to help with individuals' healthcare, the effort will also support the creation of a clinico-genomic dataset from consenting participants. This resource is intended to help researchers discover new disease drivers and develop potential treatments.

The partners also hope the database can lay the groundwork for collaborations with other organizations "across the healthcare value chain."

"Precision medicine is an emerging field that is going to transform the future delivery of healthcare. Being a leader and helping to define this path is core to our mission," David Cole, MUSC's president, said in a statement.

Helix CEO James Lu added that other population genomics efforts have demonstrated the potential to improve a health systems' ability to deliver precision care.

"In similar programs, as many as 1 in 75 participants have been found to be at risk for a serious health issue, of which 90 percent would not have been discovered through traditional practice," he said.

According to MUSC, enrollment will initially be available to patients who sign up at select MUSC clinics and locations, expanding later to participants throughout the community and state via the university's broader clinical affiliates and partners.