Genomics project looks to reduce adverse drug reactions in children

Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute have partnered with health and wellness company Dynacare, to find solutions to reduce severe as adverse drug reactions (ADR) in children.

This joint project, valued at $3 million in funding through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP) and Genome British Columbia, will work toward integrating pediatric pharmacogenomic testing into the Canadian health care system. Pharmacogenomics – the science of how an individual patient’s genetic makeup impacts his or her response to medication – will be used to predict a patient’s risk of developing an ADR.

Modern medicine has revolutionized healthcare and made a significant impact on patient longevity and quality of life. Unfortunately, many medications can also cause unintended side effects.

“Our overarching goal is to reduce and prevent ADRs – especially in vulnerable patient populations such as children,” said  the project’s co-lead, Dr. Bruce Carleton, director of the Pharmaceutical Outcomes Programme at BC Children’s Hospital and Professor & Division Head of Translational Therapeutics, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine at UBC.

Laboratory testing provided by Dynacare will inform how to improve the safety and effectiveness of the most commonly-used medications in children: antibiotics, analgesics and mental health medication.  The tests are non-invasive and are conducted using saliva.

“Dynacare is proud to be a part of this initiative to make pharmacogenomic testing available to improve patient outcomes,” says project co-lead, Dr. Yvan Côté, general manager of Dynacare Next. “We want to leverage technology in a way that can make medications safer and ultimately improve the delivery of care.”

The partnership also connects physicians and pharmacists across Canada in order to expand access to this innovative technology and ensure pharmacogenomic laboratory results are incorporated into medical decision-making.

“Using pharmacogenomics to reduce the risk of adverse drug reactions and guide treatment decisions in children is an integral part of delivering precision health care,” said Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, chief scientific officer and vice-president, Sectors, at Genome BC. “This work reflects Genome BC’s ambition to translate genomics into everyday clinical applications, in particular at the primary care level, and improve health outcomes for all Canadians.”

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