Overview of “Genomics for Precision Drug Therapy in Community Pharmacy” research project
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Overview of “Genomics for Precision Drug Therapy in Community Pharmacy” research project


The delivery of medicines is on the cusp
of taking a giant leap forward. Ever since the human genome was sequenced the promise
of personalized medicine seemed possible, but unreachable. A UBC research project supported
by the BC Pharmacy Association and Genome BC is underway and it will help make personalized
medicine a reality. The research will show that DNA can be used to ensure patients get
the right medications in the right amount at the right time. “And so we are very excited about this project
because that’s going to be an interplay between the physician, the patient and the pharmacist.” “To go from talking about the idea of personalized medicine as part of this project can become reality.” Getting from concept to daily use is the focus
of an 18-month study headed by Corey Nislow and his team at UBC’s School of Pharmaceutical
Sciences. “We’re focusing on the mechanics of getting
the genome from a pharmacy, bring it to the lab and decoding it with a high enough accuracy
and in a fast enough time frame that you could actually benefit from that information.” Getting DNA from here to the lab and back
to the clinician happens when patients, pharmacists, sequencers and health care providers all work
together. “By centering the information provider in
the pharmacy with the pharmacists, we’re going to provide a level of continuity of care that
you can’t get from a specialist.” “Pharmacists, the community pharmacists, is
kind of a perfect interface to actually be able to start working with and being able
to develop standard operating procedures for this technology.” “That’s exactly what we’re doing with this
pilot project. We’re working through the protocols to ensure the proper handling of patient information,
ensuring the integrity of the DNA sample as it’s transported from the pharmacy to the
UBC lab and ensuring that we can do this on a province wide basis.” The process is natural extension of the services
pharmacists provide. A patient visiting a pharmacy to fill a prescription is asked if
they will be willing to participate in the pharmacogenomics pilot project. They’re provided
with the information that guides them through the process. Working with the pharmacists
they address issues such as patient confidentiality, the aims of the project and how they can participate.
The patient is asked to provide a saliva sample, which is stabilized and then sent to the school
of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UBC. “Once the sample in its saliva container arrives
here, the barcode is recorded the saliva sample is reduced to the cellular component
so we take the cells out of the saliva. We, using very traditional molecular biology,
we extract the DNA from those cells. That DNA then, which is fairly, a tangle of fairly
long molecules. We need to chop it up into manageable pieces and for your genome or for
anyone’s genome, we’re talking about several hundred bite-sized pieces of DNA.” “Now we’re entering a time when we can start
to use modern technology to actually determine, what is the right drug for that patient, what
does to give them and when to give it to them.” “We know now somewhere around 160 to 200 medications, average again day to day medications, are impacted by an individual’s DNA. So, just
think about being able to find out about whether or not a medication is going to work for you
and how much of that medication that you need. So it’s really about personalizing that medication
for you.” While the long term objective is deliver personal
care to each and every patient, the objectives of this project are to (see screen). “And so, safety and efficacy, are two of the
things we hope will come out of this particular study. It’s really taking one small but very
important step of empowering a health care provider to educate the consumer as to what
personalized medicine means and how working together they can use that information.” “You know what you’re really looking at then
is kind of a perfect triage where you’re able to bring together all the groups that are
necessary. And ultimately when the data comes out of this what we are going to be able to
do is bring out those groups together and I think what we’re going to have is a much
better delivery mechanism.” For more information, please contact the BC
Pharmacy Association.

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