San Diego’s Scripps Translational Studies Institute (STSI) has teamed up with Navigenics, Affymetrix and Microsoft in order to conduct a study aimed at finding out if personal genome testing can have a positive impact on the lifestyle and behaviour choices of individuals (see press release). The project is aiming to recruit up to 10,000 employees, family members and friends aged over 18 of Scripps Health system in San Diego, offer them personal genome scans and assess their behaviour through self-reported health questionnaires over a 20 year period. Participants will be given information about their risk with respect to a number of conditions such as diabetes, cancer and obesity along with steps which can be taken to alleviate these risks, such as behaviour or diet. They will be able to store clinical and lifestyle information in an individual Microsoft HealthVault and share it with others such as health care providers, if they wish. Genomic, medical and lifestyle information gathered in this study will be de-identified and assembled into an encrypted database at the Scripps Genomic Medicine programme allowing researchers to evaluate the effect genome-scans have on people’s lifestyle.
Comment: Several commercial companies offer personal genome scans; however, their utility is often brought into question by regulators and it is uncertain if genetic susceptibility information can have a positive impact on lifestyle choices. This project may help us reach an understanding as to the extent that genetic information gained from such scans can influence our behaviour and health choices. Such studies can also be valuable in assessing the effectiveness of these tests for use in clinical practice and some studies to address this issue have already been initiated (see previous news).