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People across Colorado having blood drawn for COVID-19 antibody testing at UCHealth may participate in landmark COVID-19 research

July 21, 2020

Aurora, Colo. (July 21, 2020) – Patients electing to have COVID-19 antibody testing through UCHealth may now consent for a sample from that blood draw to be used for genetic research for a number of diseases and conditions – including COVID-19 – at the Colorado Center for Personalized Medicine (CCPM) Biobank on the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

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New research will examine why some people might be more susceptible than others to contract and become ill from COVID-19. Researchers will study de-identified samples from UCHealth patients with the goal of making discoveries that could lead to earlier detection of COVID-19 and new ways to monitor and treat the infection.

People who have recovered from COVID-19 already have generously sought to give back by donating convalescent plasma which is being used and studied in patients with COVID-19. Contributing a sample to the biobank is another option to fight the virus and help others.

UCHealth and the CCPM Biobank aim to enroll 100,000 UCHealth patients per year for the purpose of returning clinically actionable genetic results to patients and expanding research and discovery for a number of diseases and conditions. Since the Biobank’s inception, more than 148,000 UCHealth patients have consented to contribute to the Biobank and given more than 52,000 samples, of which 30,000 have been genetically analyzed so far. Some of these patients are now receiving pharmacogenetic results – information about variants in genes that predict how they might respond to a particular drug.

“I think the public is much more aware of the benefits of genetic testing in getting information back that can help them make really important decisions about their own life, their treatment, their risk of developing disease and more. I also think there’s a real altruistic nature to our patient population. They want to contribute to research and discovery, and I appreciate those who have joined this initiative,” said Kathleen Barnes, PhD, the CCPM’s director and a University of Colorado School of Medicine Professor.

Millions of genetic samples are needed to identify drivers of disease, especially because some diseases may only occur in one in 100,000 people.

“We’re finding genetics is so much more complex than we ever thought. People used to think there would be one gene for one disease. And now we know environmental and lifestyle factors also play a part. Having huge data sets is one thing that’s going to help us discover more about what causes disease and how we can treat people. We’re now collecting de-identified samples and looking at the types of diseases patients have had, bringing that data and samples together to make new discoveries,” said Stephen Wicks, PhD, a CCPM and CU School of Medicine Genomics Fellow and regulatory expert.

Patients may consent to participate through their MyHealthConnection patient portal. If they choose to opt in the next time they have orders for blood draw, a dedicated tube will be collected and sent to the Biobank, where DNA is extracted and used for research and to generate clinical results that can come back to the patient if they want them.

UCHealth began offering COVID-19 testing and antibody tests for anyone in Colorado in June. The COVID-19 PCR test (nasal swab) can determine if someone is currently sick with the novel coronavirus; the antibody test (blood draw) can determine whether someone has been exposed to or been sickened from the virus in the past. Anyone may select and schedule a test for themselves through My Health Connection after creating an account.

For more information, please visit the UCHealth Testing for COVID-19 website.

 About UCHealth

UCHealth is an innovative, nonprofit health system that delivers the highest quality medical care with an excellent patient experience. UCHealth includes over 25,000 employees, 12 acute-care full-service hospitals and hundreds of physicians across Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. With University of Colorado Hospital on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus as its academic anchor and the only adult academic medical center in the region, UCHealth is dedicated to providing unmatched patient care in the Rocky Mountain West. Offering more than 150 clinic locations, UCHealth pushes the boundaries of medicine, providing advanced treatments and clinical trials and improving health through innovation.

Contact: Jessica Berry