HudsonAlpha genetic testing initiative lets Alabamians know of their cancer risk
The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville last week hosted its 11th annual Tie the Ribbons event where over 1,300 members of the community convened at the Von Braun Center to hear about the institute’s world-class breast and ovarian cancer programs.
Tie the Ribbons is an annual luncheon that supports breast and ovarian cancer research and programs like Information is Power, a free and reduced cost genetic cancer risk testing initiative launched in 2015.
Since then, 4,200 men and women have discovered more about their cancer risks through this initiative.
This includes Huntsville’s Charles Horton. After losing his daughter to breast cancer, Horton wanted to find out more about his cancer risk — and his grandchildren’s risk. He participated in Information is Power and learned he carried a mutation in the BRCA2 gene.
“My wife and I were both tested through Information is Power,” Horton said in a statement. “Cancer has been a common thing through the years in my family so we thought it was important to learn as much as we could about it. It’s a great service that HudsonAlpha provides and we are thankful for it.”
Of the 4,000+ participants, about 150 (3%) received a positive result, which means they have an increased risk of cancer. More than half of the participants with a positive test did not report a strong family history of cancer.
“That’s why this initiative is so important,” explained Sara Cooper, PhD, HudsonAlpha faculty investigator and program leader for Information is Power.
“This type of testing can help fill in those gaps for people who don’t know their family history and provide valuable health information for them and their loved ones,” she added.
The test screens for mutations in the well-known BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, as well as several dozen other genes linked to breast, ovarian, colon and other cancers.
Thanks to support from the Russel Hill Cancer Foundation, as well as community partnerships and philanthropic support, 51% of participants have been able to take the test for free.
The test is available for free to men and women between the ages of 28 and 30 residing in Madison, Jackson, Limestone, Marshall and Morgan Counties. It is also available at a reduced cost of $129 to individuals 19 and older.
Thursday also marked year five of Information is Power kicking off. The latest continuation of the initiative will continue while supplies last, which means individuals in North Alabama still have the opportunity to take advantage of this groundbreaking genetic testing. To order or gift an Information is Power test, visit the website here.
Additionally, you can support HudsonAlpha’s breast and ovarian cancer programs here.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn