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Four local pharmacies to participate in ground-breaking genomics project

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March 24, 2015 - 10:56 AM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - The concept of tailored medical care based on individual DNA was once the stuff of science fiction novels but now the possibility is ever closer with four pharmacies in the Thompson-Okanagan signed on to take part in a first-of-its-kind genomics project.

The 'Genomics for Precision Drug Therapy in the Community Pharmacy' project is funded by Genome B.C. and the non-profit B.C. Pharmacy Association. The research — a first in North America — will be conducted by a team at the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, according to a media release.

Four local pharmacies will be among 22 across the province participating in the research project, with 200 volunteers currently taking the anticoagulant drug warfarin recruited as subjects. Community pharmacists will collect saliva samples to test how an individual's DNA can affect medication dosage and selection. The result will help develop standard operating procedures to collect saliva samples and also procedures for processing and sequencing DNA for UBC researchers. Then, researchers will conduct a restrospective analysis of the DNA information to learn how genetics would have changed the drug dosage each patient was prescribed.

"Pharmacists, who are experts in medication, are the health-care practitioners best positioned to collect and use patient genetic information to help make medication selection and dosing decisions," CEO of the B.C. Pharmacy Association Geraldine Vance says in the release. "Over time, the aim is to use DNA to make decisions about the most commonly-prescribed medications, making personalized medicine accessible for all patients in the province."

With more than 1,200 community pharmacies across the province, the potential goal would be to have any person in British Columbia within easy access of this kind of testing for their individual pharmaceutical needs regardless of where they live.

"With the modern genome technology used in this project, the idea of personalized medicine can become a reality," UBC lead researcher Dr. Corey Nislow says.

"We know there are more than 150 medications that are impacted by an individual's DNA. This project is about using that genetic information to make decisions about which medications are right for a patient – the right drug, in the right dosage at the right time."

To contact a reporter for this story, email or call 250-491-0331. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
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