News | February 19, 2007

Decades-Long Study to Probe a Range of Diseases

Feb. 20, 3007 - U.S. researchers are launching a major population-based study to examine the genetic and environmental factors that may cause many diseases, including asthma, Alzheimer's, cancer, depression, diabetes, heart disease and reproductive problems, among others.

This is the first such study in the U.S. since the Framingham Heart Study began in 1948 with some 5,000 men and women. Data from that project has helped determine the risk factors and best treatments for heart disease ever since.

"That study continues to provide information that has radically changed the way cardiovascular disease is prevented and managed," Dr. Robert Pearl, executive director and chief executive officer of The Permanente Medical Group in California, which will sponsor the new research, said during a Wednesday teleconference.

The goal of the Kaiser Permanente Research Program on Genes, Environment and Health is to discover which genes and environmental factors are linked to specific diseases, he said.

"This research will benefit people in the future, because it uses what we have learned in the mapping of the human genome and builds on that, so we can better understand the environmental and genetic factors that effect human disease and how diseases can be treated," Dr. David Kessler, dean of the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine and former head of the FDA, said during the teleconference.

To get started, Kaiser is spending $7 million and mailing requests to its almost 2 million adult HMO members in northern California, asking them to take part in the study. Kaiser is hoping to recruit 500,000 participants. The initial survey will ask questions about their background, health history, lifestyle and habits, and family medical history.

Later, those who enroll in the study and give written consent will be asked to provide blood or saliva samples that can be used to obtain genetic information.

Pearl expects this study to be as significant in the 21st century as Framingham was in the 20th century. "This study will allow us to understand how the individual genetic makeup of patients interacts with the environment -- the air they breathe, the water they drink and their lifestyle -- to either cause or prevent the development of various ailments," he said.

The study will also allow researchers to see the effect of new drugs as they are used by thousands of people.

One of the unique aspects of the Kaiser study is that researchers will be able to tie population-based data directly with patient's medical records. "The program will eventually link survey responses with clinical data and ultimately with genetic information," Dr. Joe Selby, the director of Kaiser Permanente's Division of Research, said during the briefing.

Kaiser expects to seek additional funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health and other sources. And as the study progresses over the years, Kaiser plans to share the data with other researchers and institutions.

One expert applauds Kaiser's effort.

"It's been increasingly difficult to fund and enroll people in these kinds of studies in the United States," said Eugenia E. Calle, managing director of analytic epidemiology at the American Cancer Society. "There is a new cohort that is being formed in the United Kingdom called the UK Biobank, which will also link survey data with medical records and include 500,000 people," she noted.

One of the important aspects of the new U.S. study is that the participants can be followed for 20 to 30 years, Calle said. "You can query them over the years. New drugs come on the market, new hypotheses develop, and you are in a position to ask new questions and continue to follow them," she said.

Calle noted that the American Cancer Society is also starting a new population-based study. "We are enrolling nationwide and our goal is 500,000 people," she said. "If we don't start these new studies, we literally lose the ability to study our times," she said.

More information

To learn more about the new study, visit Kaiser Permanente.

Source: HealthDay

Related Content

Videos | Artificial Intelligence | December 18, 2018
Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) 2018 annual meeting keynote speaker Michael Recht, M.D., chairman of rad
University of Utah Health Radiologists Select Philips Illumeo for Adaptive Intelligence
News | Artificial Intelligence | November 30, 2018
At the 2018 Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Annual Meeting, Philips announced radiologists at the...
Vital Showcases Enterprise Imaging Advances at RSNA 2018

Global Illumination from Vital Images

News | Enterprise Imaging | November 28, 2018
Vital, a Canon Group company, will highlight the latest additions to its enterprise imaging portfolio at the 2018...
Holston Medical Group
Sponsored Content | Case Study | Enterprise Imaging | November 07, 2018
“The only constant in healthcare these days is change,” said...
Konica Minolta Provides New Insights with AeroRemote Insights
News | Digital Radiography (DR) | November 01, 2018
At the 2018 Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting, Nov. 25-30 in Chicago, Konica Minolta...
CHI Franciscan Launches Washington State's First AI-Powered Hospital Mission Control Center
News | Artificial Intelligence | October 08, 2018
CHI Franciscan Health and GE Healthcare have joined forces to implement a NASA-style "Mission Control" command center...
Nuance Launches Cloud-Based mPower Clinical Analytics Platform at AHRA 2018
Technology | Analytics Software | August 16, 2018
At the Association for Medical Imaging Management (AHRA) 2018 Annual Meeting and Exposition, July 22-25 in Orlando, Fla...
Metro Health-University of Michigan Health Partners With Eon to Improve Lung Cancer Care
News | Oncology Diagnostics | August 07, 2018
Metro Health-University of Michigan Health announced it is partnering with healthcare data company Eon to improve the...
Konica Minolta Launches AeroRemote Insights for Digital Radiography
Technology | Analytics Software | June 07, 2018
Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas Inc. announced the release of AeroRemote Insights, a cloud-based, business...
Carestream Demonstrates New Clinical Collaboration Platform Capabilities at SIIM
News | Enterprise Imaging | May 10, 2018
Carestream is demonstrating its upgraded Clinical Collaboration Platform that can expedite and enhance radiology...