Startup helps identify patients at risk for hereditary cancers

University of Michigan startup InheRET Inc. has launched an online program that helps identify patients at risk for hereditary cancers without a visit to the doctor.

More than 90% of Americans at increased risk for familial cancers remain unidentified until after a cancer diagnosis. For some of the most common and treacherous forms of cancer such as colon, rectal, breast and ovarian cancers, high-risk individuals could reduce their cancer risk by as much as 95% if identified prior to cancer onset.

The Ann Arbor-based startup’s software application is based on the work of faculty and staff at Michigan Medicine and Rogel Cancer Center. They are: David Keren, clinical professor of pathology; Sofia Merajver, professor of internal medicine (hematology and oncology); Lee Schroeder, assistant professor of pathology; Lynn McCain, senior project manager in the pathology department; and Kara Milliron, a genetic counselor.

InheRET’s cancer risk evaluation program was tested in a pilot at Michigan Medicine where nearly 500 patients have completed the health history form. The program is now available to the general public and to health care facilities on a subscription basis.

“It’s amazing the progress that the InheRET team has made since launching the company this past December,” said Bryce Pilz, director of licensing for U-M Tech Transfer. “In just six month’s time, they’ve launched their hereditary risk assessment tool and are making a positive difference in the lives of people, and that’s incredibly gratifying to see.”

Individuals will receive reports that indicate whether or not they should be seen by a genetics specialist due to their family’s health history and health pedigree. These reports can be saved and updated at any time, may be kept private, or shared with health care providers and family members.

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