Improving the lives of our patients by advancing healthcare knowledge
Intermountain Healthcare is currently involved in more than 1,340 research studies, which makes it one of the leading clinical research organizations in the region. Our focus on applied research means the work benefits patients directly.
One promising example: using genomics to predict and defeat heart disease. For the past two years, Intermountain has been part of the CARDIoGRAM study, an international team of heart researchers working to identify genetic markers associated with coronary artery disease, which is caused by plaque buildup that can cause heart attacks, strokes, and other health problems.
By understanding the connections between heart disease and a person’s genetic makeup, clinicians hope to treat heart problems more effectively, which is important since coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
Thanks to new technology, the research team was able to look at a million genetic indicators on DNA samples from more than 85,000 patients who had heart disease. The second phase, or validation phase, of the study included an additional 50,000 patients. Intermountain has been collecting and analyzing samples from willing heart patients for 18 years, led by molecular biologist John Carlquist, PhD. Through this effort, Intermountain became one of a few sites from the United States involved in this study and the only one from Utah.
The result? When Intermountain researchers joined the team, 10 genetic markers had already been identified. As a part of the CARDIoGRAM study, the largest study to date of the genetics of heart disease, the contribution from the Intermountain team helped discover an additional 13 markers linked to coronary artery disease.
While the team is gratified by the new findings, they know they still need to figure out how those markers interact and how they can use that information to create workable treatments. Much more work needs to be done—and is underway.