US researchers have announced a major study to identify genes involved in drug metabolism, with the hope of providing personalised “drug safety” profiles to help avoid adverse reactions and ineffective treatments.
The project is a collaboration between the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, which runs the Mayo Clinic Biobank, and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, home to the Human Genome Sequencing Center.
“This is a huge step toward bringing knowledge of pharmacogenomics into patient care,” says Richard Weinshilboum, pharmacogenomics program director at Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine. “It has the potential of preventing errors and identifying the most appropriate drugs and individualised treatments for thousands of patients.”
The Mayo Clinic Biobank was launched in 2009 and holds blood samples, together with anonymised clinical and epidemiological data, from 44,000 adult patients.
The new pharmacogenomics project will begin with a 500-sample pilot followed by a full 10,000-sample study. In all, 69 genes will be sequenced and analysed for variants that influence how patients metabolise or respond to different drugs.
The research will also track patients over time to see whether pharmacogenomic DNA sequencing and the provision of drug safety profiles in patients’ medical records improve clinical outcomes. If so, pharmacogenomics profiling could become routine clinical practice for Mayo Clinic patients.
“This collaboration is a wonderful example of how a partnership between a genome centre and a premier clinical group can speed the translation of valuable genomic tests into useful advances in patient care,” says Richard Gibbs, director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor.