Since the National Institutes of Health began investigating integrating genomics data into electronic health records back in 2007, other countries--notably the United Kingdom--have pushed ahead with plans. Now Regeneron ($REGN) has given the U.S. a boost by partnering with a healthcare network to tie EHRs to exome sequencing data.
New York-based biopharma Regeneron will sequence DNA from 100,000 patients at Geisinger Health Systems, a healthcare network that serves 3 million people in Pennsylvania. Having volunteered their DNA for sequencing, the patients will benefit from Geisinger linking genomics data to their EHRs. Geisinger will use this information to guide how it cares for the patient, while Regeneron will use an anonymized version to shape its drug development plans.
The project has been well received by observers. "Scientifically and medically, it's pretty exciting. As far as I'm aware, it's the largest clinical sequencing undertaking in this country so far by a long shot," Dr. Leslie Biesecker, chief of the genetic disease research branch at the government's National Human Genome Research Institute, told The New York Times. Regeneron will cover the cost of the exome sequencing, gaining valuable insights into links between genes and disease in return.
Having access to anonymized versions of EHRs and their accompanying genetic data will allow Regeneron to look for links between the sequencing results and diseases. Geisinger's investment in EHRs make it well suited to the project. The organization is a member of the eMERGE Network NIH set up in 2007 to work on the linking of genomics data to EHRs and has connected all its clinics to an online system. Adding genomics data to the records is the next step in its plan.
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