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Helix, Nebraska Medicine Partner to Launch Genomic Health-Risk Screening Program

NEW YORK – Population genomics firm Helix said Tuesday that it has partnered with Nebraska Medicine to launch the Genetic Insights Project, in which Helix will provide testing to identify individuals with an elevated risk of cancer and other potentially life-threatening diseases while also collecting broader genomic data for research purposes.

Helix said the program aims to enroll 100,000 people, which would make it the largest population health program in Nebraska. Participation will be voluntary, and there will be no cost to participants. Other financial terms were not disclosed.

According to Helix, the genes tested in the program will include those linked to a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer, Lynch syndrome, and high cholesterol. The research program may also expand its panel of genetic markers in the future, the firm said. In addition, the data collected could also allow future genomics testing to be ordered for individuals who need it without having to resequence patients.

Nebraska Medicine sees the program as a "fundamental step in being able to provide patients with precision care," Allison Cushman-Vokoun, medical director of Nebraska Medicine's molecular diagnostics and human genetics laboratories, said in a statement. "The project's large-scale information will also help unlock DNA trends for the entire community — protecting more people from heart-related issues and cancer — for years to come," she added.

Helix said that Nebraska Medicine is only one of the health systems it is partnering with to launch the program, which will begin, on a limited basis, in late 2023. Other partners announced previously include St. Luke's University Health Network of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and several others.

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