DNA

(Meredith)

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) - Genetic testing is one of the hottest health trends. The Healthy Nevada Project said it is looking for 25,000 people from Clark County to hand over their DNA.

Participants get a free DNA kit and those results, the Healthy Nevada Project will use that data to find patterns in our population’s health, the group said.

“We know that the environmental conditions in Nevada are a little bit different than they are in other parts of the country,” Renown Health president and CEO Dr. Anthony Slonim said.

Researchers are trying to find out how the environment affects people’s health based on each person’s unique DNA.

“To what extent do those environmental conditions affect health?” Dr. Slonim said. “That's independent from genetics.”

“By creating a large community-based data set, we're hopefully able to understand and learn how to improve the health of Nevadans,” Dr. Slonim said

The project is a partnership between Renown Health, Desert Research Institute and Helix. It started in northern Nevada in 2016. They have already found some patterns in the state.

“We’ve identified some challenges like air quality and how it's impacted disease and hospital admission,” Dr. Slonim said.

“I think that’d be a really good thing for a lot of allergies,” Gayle Gyger said.

People who have never taken a DNA test shared their thoughts in Las Vegas Friday. 

“I’d like to do one,” Gayle Gyger said. “I just haven't had the chance or thought about it when I had the money.”

They said they’d like to learn about their heritage and health.

“I’d like to know what can I avoid or treat now so I don't pass it down to other generations,” one mother said.

“The family history. My mom has always said we’re one thing. My dad says we’re something else. I’d like to have a definitive answer,” Gyger said.

The Healthy Nevada project is teaming up with Helix, a DNA testing company.

“It’s a simple saliva test, takes 20 to 30 minutes,” Dr. Slonim said.

People who participate will get their genetic profile for free with the assurance their DNA is stored safely.  

“We learned how to lock down any firewalls between this data and anybody else,” Dr. Slonim said.

Helix will handle all of the DNA samples. Only researchers will be able to access the data.

The project’s leaders hope this will help people learn more about themselves as researchers learn more about the population.

“We want the results in the data to mirror the complexion of the community,” Dr. Slonim said. “The more that we talk about these things, the healthier we will become over time.”

The Healthy Nevada Project will need to sample 20 percent of the population, so this is just the first wave of DNA testing in Las Vegas.

For more information, visit: https://healthynv.org/

Sign-up opens on Tuesday, May 7.

Copyright 2019 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved

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