NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Mayo Clinic and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals are collaborating to sequence the exomes and genotype 100,000 DNA samples from patients who have consented to partake in research and have submitted samples to Mayo’s biobank.
"Research findings from this database may lead to new knowledge about which genes put people at risk for certain diseases, and which ones affect how people respond to treatment," Keith Stewart, director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, said in a statement.
Regeneron is covering the cost of the sequencing and genotyping, and both partners will have access to the data for research purposes. The data will be used to research diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and mental health conditions. Researchers can use the sequencing data to propose studies that investigate how genetic variants are associated with the risk of developing these diseases or with long-term disease outcomes, according to Mayo.
The exome sequencing data will not be incorporated in participants’ medical records, but Mayo said that there are plans for a research study on return of results.
This is not the first time Regeneron and Mayo have joined up. Several years ago, they teamed up with Pittsburgh-based non-profit research organization Curable to sequence the genomes of at least 5,000 patients with a rare autoimmune disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis, as well as healthy controls, to try to identify genetic contributors to the disease.
In 2014, Regeneron inked a collaboration with Geisinger Health to sequence patients in that Pennsylvania healthcare system. Within Geisinger's MyCode Community Health Initiative, consenting patients have their exomes sequenced by Regeneron, and around 2 percent of participants have received results indicating they have a likely pathogenic or pathogenic variants in 76 genes associated with 27 conditions. By next month, Regeneron will have sequenced the exomes of 145,000 MyCode participants, and more than 1,000 patients have received results so far.
Also this week, Decode Genetics and Intermountain Healthcare announced plans to perform whole-genome sequencing on 500,000 patients in Utah and Idaho in a population health initiative called HerediGene. Similar to what Regeneron is doing with Geisinger and Mayo, the aim of the Intermountain/Decode effort is to improve understanding of the underlying causes of disease and develop better drugs.