Finnish Biobanks Leverage Genetic Data for Preventive Healthcare

New national practices utilize biobank samples to enhance disease prevention and patient monitoring.

Finnish Biobanks Leverage Genetic Data for Preventive Healthcare
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Highlights

  • Genetic data from biobanks aids early detection and preventive healthcare.
  • Nationwide project standardizes returning genetic results to biobank donors.
  • Donors can access personalized genetic risk information through the MyBiobank portal.

Finnish hospital-based biobanks are pioneering the use of biobank samples to enhance preventive healthcare by utilizing genetic risk information. These efforts are part of the national GenomiTerveys project, which seeks to integrate genetic data from research studies into healthcare practices across the country.

Significant findings from biobank samples can inform patients about their genetic predispositions, such as the BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2 gene defects, which considerably increase the risk of developing breast cancer. For instance, women carrying these gene defects face a heightened likelihood of breast and ovarian cancers. Professor Olli Carpén from Helsinki Biobank highlights the value of early detection made possible through biobank samples, emphasizing that such information is crucial for both donors and healthcare providers.

The GenomiTerveys project has developed scalable operating practices for conveying genetic information back to biobank donors. According to Project Manager Minja Pehrsson, the initiative included sending letters to donors who consented to receiving health-related genetic results. Interested donors can access detailed information via the MyBiobank portal and decide whether to authorize the release of their genetic data.

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When a high-risk genetic mutation is identified, biobank professionals arrange a phone consultation to discuss the results. In the HUS area, donors are referred to the Clinical Genetics Unit for confirmation and subsequent counseling. This process ensures that individuals receive tailored monitoring and preventive treatments in line with established medical practices.

The GenomiTerveys project underscores the tangible benefits of biobank research in healthcare. Many donors appreciate receiving health-related genetic information, and the majority expect to be informed of any significant findings. By integrating genome data from biobank samples into routine healthcare, Finland is advancing towards personalized medicine, offering enhanced monitoring and preventive care to those at genetic risk.