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Approved KP Research Bank Studies

Kaiser Permanente Research Bank

The following projects were recently approved to use KP Research Bank information:

Improving the use of statins for cardiovascular disease prevention using polygenic risk scores

Nearly half of adults in the U.S. have some kind of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes. Statins are medications that lower cholesterol and are proven to be effective in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Over 70 million patients nationwide are recommended to take this medication. There is some evidence that a person’s genetic background could help doctors improve statin prescribing, but this has not been fully studied.

The main goal of this project is to find out if genetic factors can predict how well specific statins work at reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease for people with different genetic backgrounds. The study team will compare cardiovascular health and disease in hundreds of thousands of statin users and nonusers using KP Research Bank health records and genetic data. The results of the study may help further reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by taking a person’s genetic background into account when prescribing statin medications.

Mammography, predictors of breast cancer risk, and polygenic risk scores

Mammograms used to screen for breast cancer can reduce deaths by making diagnoses earlier but sometimes result in false positives. A false positive result means the test shows the person has changes in breast tissue consistent with breast cancer, but they do not have the disease. False positive results can lead to unnecessary biopsies and overtreatment of small, low-risk cancers that would not otherwise cause harm.

Risk prediction models use a person’s characteristics, like age and family history of breast cancer, to estimate how likely it is they will develop breast cancer. Improved breast cancer risk prediction models make it possible for screening tests to be tailored by a person’s risk level. This would maximize the benefits and minimize the harms of mammogram screening tests.

The goal of this study is to find out if using mammogram screening results and polygenic risk scores (a number that summarizes the effect of many genetic variants) could improve breast cancer risk prediction models.

Is it possible to improve prostate cancer screening and treatment with genetic information?

The goal of this project is to improve the performance of the prostate cancer screening test called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Men who have an elevated PSA level may get a prostate biopsy. One part of this study is to see if genetic factors can lead to better choices about whether or not a person should have a biopsy. Another part of the study will try to find out if some men who get diagnosed with prostate cancer can have periodic checkups rather than immediately having surgery or radiation. This is important because many prostate cancers are very slow growing and will not lead to complications or death. Having this kind of information could help improve quality of life for men with a new diagnosis of prostate cancer.

The role of genetic risk in glaucoma

Primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) is a leading cause of permanent blindness. POAG is mainly caused by increased pressure in the eye. This study will look for new genetic factors linked to a person’s risk of POAG and determine how those factors may impact:

  • Risk of developing POAG
  • Response to eye pressure lowering medications

By using electronic health care records linked to genetic data from the KP Research Bank, researchers will study the clinical care of Kaiser Permanente members who have had vision exams. Researchers expect that this study will help explain the factors related to POAG risk and inform the development of new treatments.

Genetic factors affecting weight loss after bariatric surgery

Bariatric surgery is currently the most effective long-term treatment for severe obesity. In this study, researchers are trying to answer the following question: Why do some people not lose weight as expected after bariatric surgery? Using electronic health records with linked genetic data from the KP Research Bank, researchers will study the clinical care of Kaiser Permanente members who have had bariatric surgery. Researchers hope to understand both the genetic and non-genetic factors that contribute to weight loss after bariatric surgery.

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