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Avera Health has launched a twin registry in the Midwest to help fuel genetic and environmental studies, the Associated Press reports. The database is seeking DNA samples from identical and fraternal twins of all ages in the Great Plains region.

"Why does one twin get a disease and the other doesn't? That's what we are studying. We look at both the genetics and environmental influences on diseases such as type 1 diabetes, behavioral disorders and cardiovascular disease," Gareth Davies, chief scientific officer at the Avera Institute for Human Genetics, tells the AP.

Avera has already processed some 80,000 samples from twins from the Netherlands through a collaboration with researchers there. The health system tells the AP that the registry could enable more precise diagnoses, better treatment approaches, and disease prevention. It plans to focus on cardiovascular disease and obesity.

After donating DNA, twins or their parents will periodically be asked about their health and environment.

Data from the Midwest twin registry will also be available to Avera's Dutch collaborators and may, Davies says, make for some interesting comparisons.

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