About this webinar
Recorded On: Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Presented By: Helen Harrison, Founder and CEO of Tx Genetic Research, 2020 Abstract Competition 2nd Place Winner
Approximately 8 million Americans suffer yearly from interstitial cystitis, a chronic bladder
inflammatory condition; 80% of these sufferers are women (ICA 2017). About 12.2 women in the United States experience vaginal and bladder infections yearly (NIDDKD 2011). And 65% of the 35.2 million who endure irritable bowel syndrome are also women (Canaban+, 2014).
Like many women, throughout the course of my adult life I have had to focus constantly on urogenital health problems. Starting with a chronic yeast infection in my early 20’s (opening years of the 1980s) and yearly bladder infections thereafter, my conditions eventually expanded to include uterine fibroids (necessitating a hysterectomy), fibromyalgia and interstitial cystitis in the early 2000’s. I tried every course of alternative and conventional medical treatment for IC and nothing permanently resolved my pain and dysfunction. Furthermore, there were no insights as to what was actually causing this debilitating bladder condition.
Being trained in the history of science with a specialization in evolutionary biology, I felt confident that there had to be a genetic foundation to this disorder and that I had sufficient training in the biological sciences to learn what I needed to uncover an answer. I also felt that there were dietary and nutritional aspects involved that could help resolve the circumstance. I dove into the digital “stacks” and learned all that I could about the genes, tissues and biochemistry of the bladder. When I found a new tidbit of relevant information, I changed my diet and added certain nutrients. Over the course of 3 years, I was able to completely eliminate my bladder pain and dysfunction; the chronic infections became a thing of the past.
In 2016, whole exome sequencing became available to the public. While this type of commercial testing has its limitations, it can identify directions toward which one can look. And look I did. Throughout 2016 and 2017, I identified the categories of genetic dysfunction that seemed to be failing together to create interstitial cystitis. And not only IC, but also other failures of epithelial mucosa, like leaky gut syndrome.
During my research, I realized that the majority of the genetic variants that affect the production and degradation of mucosa in our urogenital, lung and gastrointestinal tissues occur at common rates. What was affecting me affects millions. So, in late 2017, along with my husband Robert L. Backstrand, we started Tx Genetic Research as a nutritional genomic company to provide custom nutritional and dietary guidance, and genetic testing, for individuals experiencing symptoms of epithelial mucosa decline.
In 2018 we conducted a nutritional study with 17 people (5 controls, 12 participants) who experienced some type of epithelial-related health condition. Based on the participants’ whole exome genetic test and symptoms, we tested the nutritional formula and diet I had developed for myself, adjusting nutrients as needed based on genetic profile. Of the 12 participants, 11 experienced dramatic improvement in gastrointestinal, lung and urogenital function.
In 2019 we were accepted as an incubatee company of Murrieta Genomics in the City of Murrieta, CA. We now have an office and an FDA-compliant wet room in which to mix the test batches of our custom formulas. We have established a working relationship with a compounding pharmacy, Sabre Sciences, to commercially make our custom nutrients. And our genetic testing services are provided by Novogene.
Right now, we are working on creating the genetic variant profile for urogenital degradation with whole exome sequencing tests from 5 volunteers. How are we able to do this?
It would be immensely difficult to identify the genetic variants likely contributing to epithelial mucosa decline without the extent of information and ease of data manipulation and report creation of Golden Helix’ VarSeq software. We reviewed other variant analysis software and, given that we are uncovering a completely new variant profile, no other software has the power and detail to help effectively and efficiently with this task. We are about 3/5 of the way through the creation of this profile. In the near future we hope to expand the number of samples beyond our current 5 so that our analysis is on stronger theoretical footing.
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