The Avera Institute for Human Genetics Impact
The Avera Institute for Human Genetics (AIHG) seeks to further Avera's mission by providing a positive impact in the lives and health of the people and communities we serve.
Through its three areas of commitment, the AIHG will seek to create a more complete understanding of an individual's genetic profile, interaction with environment and response to pharmacologic therapies. This research will lead to a better understanding of personalized treatments and more effective preventative strategies.
Biobanking (or Sample Banking) is the collection and storage of human samples, such as blood, saliva, urine, etc. The samples are then available to genetic scientists for future research projects which may help the scientists understand the following:
- why one person gets a disease while another person does not;
- how environmental influences affect disease;
- what medications or treatments may or may not prevent or treat the symptoms or occurence of a particular disease.
Understanding the answers to these questions--among others--could serve to improve athe overall health of many people. while working to reduce healthcare costs.
Click here to learn more about biobanking.
Located in the Avera Behavioral Health Center, the AIHG laboratory is equipped to use genetic approaches to investigate genes that may define risk and protective factors. Major scientific projects planned or currently underway include the following:
Netherlands Twin Study: AIHG was part of a multi-site grant which was awarded by the National Institute of Mental Health. This award provided a total of $2,625,500 in funding to Avera over two years (9/30/09 to 9/30/11).
DNA has been collected from 4,414 twins in the Netherlands, who have been followed from birth until age 22. This study allowed us to identify new genetic influences on child psychiatric illness which in turn has lead to improved diagnostic and treatment approaches. The project was the first single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)/copy number variation (CNV) and genome-wide association study of common childhood psychopathologies using an extended twin-sibling family study design.
With over ten years of experience, the Avera Research Institute has the expertise to assist the AIHG efforts to conduct clinical research. Several clinical studies are currently being conducted:
Psychiatric Pharmacogenomics: This clinical study will focus on a small, defined population residing at the South Dakota Developmental Center (SDDC), which serves individuals with developmental disabilities and co-occurring psychiatric disorders. This population was selected after the state approached Avera IHBG to help reduce individual patient’s medication burden and optimize prescription therapy to improve clinical outcomes. Interestingly, eleven of the 150 residents of SDDC utilize over $1,000 per month just for medications.
Approximately 50 residents with high numbers of medications used per month will be approached to participate in the study. Eligibility of residents will then be determined by the treatment team which consists of 3-4 of the following professionals: treating psychologist, behavior therapist, case manager, supervisors, counselors, dietitians, physician assistants, occupational therapists, and physical therapists.
The goal of this study is to develop a process for utilizing pharmacogenomic analysis as a strategy to improve the quality of life, increase safety, reduce medication burden, and enhance effectiveness of medications in people with psychiatric illnesses and developmental disabilities. Ultimately, this interdisciplinary service could be developed into a standard screening and consultation tool for healthcare providers to utilize when determining the most appropriate medication for their patients.
IHBG-10: AIHG is involved in the development of a product composed of all-natural ingredients. This nutriceutical has been tested for effectiveness in weight loss and changes in body composition in an obese population. Individuals who are at least 18 years old and have a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30 were able to participate in this trial. Results were recently published in the journal Phytomedicine.
Another clinical study involving this nutriceutical will evaluate its effectiveness in weight loss in patients taking an antipsychotic medication. With the development of second-generation antipsychotic medications comes a myriad of adverse health-related side effects including weight gain and obesity. These side effects may not only cause health-related deterioration in patients, but also compromise patients’ willingness to remain on the medications.
ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects approximately 10-12% of school-aged children in the United States, making it one of the most common psychiatric disorders in children. The discrepancy in diagnosis and treatment of ADHD among girls may contribute to a reduced number of girls reaching adulthood with the diagnosis of ADHD. Because the prevalence of ADHD does not decline as significantly with adulthood as once thought, it is suggested a much higher incidence of undiagnosed ADHD symptoms exists among adult women. A clinical study has been designed to determine if offering relative-risk genotyping for ADHD and educating around the genetic and environmental contributions to ADHD may lead to greater healthcare acceptance in women who struggle with ADHD symptoms.