£4 million of funding into pharmacogenetics

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UK Health Minister Lord Warner today announced the winning bids for £4 million of funding into pharmacogenetics - how a patient’s genetic make-up can effect their response to different medicines.

Whilst research in this area is still in its early stages, it is hoped that eventually doctors will be able to use information about a patient’s genes to predict how they might respond to different medicines and then tailor treatments to suit their individual needs.

This could help to reduce the incidence of adverse drug reactions by making sure that when a patient’s genetic make-up means that they are likely to react badly to a medicine, alternative treatments are used. Likewise, doctors will be able to improve the effectiveness of some treatments by targeting those patients who are likely to respond well.

The six winning bids include research projects into how genetics could effect responses to drugs used to prevent blood clots and treat epilepsy as well as developing a screening test to identify patients who are at high risk of having a fatal reaction to general anaesthetic.

Lord Warner said:

"I am delighted to announce the successful bidders for this funding. Whilst research in this area is still in its early stages, pharmacogenetics has enormous potential to improve the effectiveness of the treatment that patients receive, and more importantly could save lives by identifying those patients who, because of their genetic make-up, are likely to react badly to certain medicines.

This is part of the government’s commitment to make sure that NHS patients get the full benefit of the latest developments in genetic knowledge".

The funding is part of a £50 million strategy announced in last year’s Genetics White Paper.

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