Genetic Study To Map Genomes Of 500K People, Hopes To Help Doctors Prevent Cancer

Nov 15, 2019, 9:33 AM | Updated: 9:34 am

HURRICANE, Utah — What would life be like if you knew you would get cancer one day but could prevent it beforehand? Clinicians in Utah are hoping to accomplish just that through a new study.

One St. George man said he’s participating for the health of his posterity.

Durward Wadsworth, 76, grew up on a farm in southern Utah. He worked alongside his family tending to the fruits trees, horses, and other animals.

“We had to milk cows and bring hay in,” he said.

The farm has remained, but things have changed.

“I have a brother that passed away. I have a sister that passed away,” Wadsworth said.

They both died from cancer. Wadsworth was also diagnosed with colon cancer and finished chemotherapy only a year ago.

Durward Wadsworth, 76, grew up on this farm in Southern Utah.

Durward Wadsworth, 76, grew up on this farm in Southern Utah.

“It’s not a fun treatment,” he said. He went to the Dixie Regional Cancer Center for 12 rounds of chemotherapy.

As a teenager, Wadsworth was exposed to radiation during nuclear testing at the Nevada National Security Site.

“As kids, we didn’t know any different, so we would go up on the hill and watch when one would explode and you could actually see the mushroom and hear the boom,” he said.

Both his family history of cancer and heart disease, and his exposure to radiation had him concerned.

His son encouraged him to participate in Intermountain Healthcare’s HerediGene population study. Clinicians hoped the study, in collaboration with deCODE Genetics of Iceland, will help them better understand the human genome.

Dr. Lincoln Nadauld, chief of precision health at Intermountain Healthcare, said the study is unprecedented. He said it looks at the link between genes and human disease.

“This study is the largest of its kind. It’s an attempt to map the genomes of 500,000 people over the next five years,” Nadauld said. “There is no genetic study in health care that has ever been reported or ever attempted that compares in size or scope.”

Nadauld said this study will impact generations to come.

“(It) will allow us and subsequent generations to better understand health and the origins of disease and healthcare-related issues,” he said. “It’s going to change the way that we deliver health care for the better.”

Nadauld hoped the study will help doctors better predict and prevent disease before someone is ill.

“So let’s intervene with either a medicine or a lifestyle change so that you never have to experience heart failure or heart attack or a stroke,” he said.

While this type of precision genomics started in oncology, Nadauld said his team has applied it to all of their medical disciplines, including cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disorders, metabolic issues and even mental illness.

“This study could uncover the link between mental illness and genes, and could identify new treatments for mental illness,” he said.

Dr. Lincoln Nadauld said the study looks at the link between genes and human disease. Dr. Lincoln Nadauld said the study looks at the link between genes and human disease. Durward Wadsworth said he is motivated for his posterity's health to participate in the HerediGene population study. Source - Durward Wadsworth Durward Wadsworth, 76, grew up on this farm in Southern Utah.

Even though Wadsworth still has a lot of life to live, he knows he probably won’t personally benefit from the study by the time it’s completed.

“But, you know, my posterity will benefit,” he said.

That’s enough motivation for him. Wadsworth said he doesn’t want his five children and 18 grandchildren to suffer through cancer as he did.

“We want the best health care for them,” he said.

He also hoped they’ll carry on the family farm.

Nadauld said the study isn’t just for people who have been sick but will include mostly healthy individuals.

He said it just takes a simple blood draw to participate. Nadauld said by the end of the year there will be 25 different walk-in clinics across the entire state.

Nadauld said he anticipates a very small percentage of the participants will be informed of a health issue, in which doctors and patients need to take action.

“We expect that will happen in about 3% of our participants,” he said.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Your Life Your Health

Ayanna Likens

Taking the stigma out of weight loss surgery

For some people, diet and lifestyle changes aren't enough to lose weight. On the advice of their doctor, bariatric surgery may be an option.
2 days ago
Ann and Russell Gleave...
Peter Rosen

Losing weight: Setting the wheels in motion

When it comes to shedding pounds, it’s not just about the patient. It’s usually a family affair.
2 days ago
Ayanna Likens

New orthopedic urgent care offers quicker, more affordable care

A first of its kind orthopedic urgent care opened in St. George, providing faster and cheaper services than going to the emergency room.
9 days ago
Joan DuQuette and Amanda DuQuette-Roberts...
Ayanna Likens

South Jordan family is thankful for organ donation this Thanksgiving

A local family said they have a lot to be thankful for this year after their family member received a lifesaving kidney transplant, but this transplant actually saved more than just one life.
17 days ago
Thanksgiving feast...
Ayanna Likens

Taking food allergies into account this holiday season

As Thanksgiving and other holiday celebrations bring people around the table, Intermountain Healthcare dietitians say it's crucial to take food allergies into consideration when planning the big meal.
22 days ago
aortic aneurysm repair...
Ayanna Likens

‘It was a real miracle for us’ New technology at Intermountain Healthcare saves man’s life

Intermountain Healthcare recently became the first in Utah to perform a new lifesaving and less invasive heart procedure. 
29 days ago

Sponsored Articles

notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Genetic Study To Map Genomes Of 500K People, Hopes To Help Doctors Prevent Cancer