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Findings may constitute a major step toward personalized medicine
BWH researchers are leading a study expected to pave the way for personalized medicine by revealing the genetic blueprints for breast cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke and other diseases in women.
“The Women’s Genome Health Study will constitute a major step toward realizing the promise of personalized medicine,” said Paul Ridker, MD, principal investigator of the Women’s Genome Health Study and director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at BWH and Harvard Medical School.
Study investigators are surveying genetic differences among 28,000 initially healthy American women. The women already have been tracked for more than a decade for the development of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other common health disorders. Stored genetic samples from each participant will undergo a fully confidential “genome-wide scan” evaluating more than 317,000 potential genetic differences.
“By evaluating nearly all of the genetic variations in these 28,000 women, physician-scientists will be able to explore the potential underlying causes of many common disorders that affect women, including cardiovascular disease, bone loss, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and certain cancers,” Ridker said.
BWH is collaborating with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Amgen, an international biotechnology company that develops and delivers innovative human therapeutics, on the Women’s Genome Health Study.
“The Brigham/NIH/Amgen collaboration is a wonderful example of how partnerships between universities, industry and the federal government can be constructed so as to get genetic information as rapidly as possible in the hands of those that may be able to make a difference in the lives of patients,” Elizabeth Nabel, director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, said.
In addition to Ridker, BWH investigators for the Women’s Genome Health Study include Julie E. Buring, senior epidemiologic investigator, Daniel Chasman, director of Computational Biology, Robert Zee, director of the Laboratory for Genetic Epidemiology, and David Kwiatkowski of the Harvard Partners Center for Genetics and Genomics.