Page URL:

Inquiry into 'personalised medicine' launched

21 September 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 277

The UK's Royal Society is launching a year-long investigation into the potential of pharmacogenetics: drug treatments tailored to a person's genetic make-up.  The study, headed by geneticist Sir David Weatherall, will look at when and if 'personalised medicine' will become a reality. It will also assess whether healthcare providers in the UK and elsewhere can implement the necessary technologies, and ask pharmaceutical companies how much it will cost to develop them.

Pharmacogenetics has often been touted as the future of healthcare, but some scientists have expressed reservations about whether such technology will ever live up to the hype, what it might cost, and how it would impact on healthcare systems. Weatherall said that the new study would look at whether pharmacogenetics is 'a scientifically achievable aim, be it five, ten or 25 years from now'. Currently, there is only one commercial diagnostic test available aimed at measuring individual drug responses: the 'AmpliChip CYP450', launched recently by Roche Diagnostics.

It is claimed that advances in pharmacogenetics will mean a drop in the number of adverse drug reactions, and an end to the 'trial and error' approach currently used to prescribe medicines. But, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper, some fear that since drug company profits depend on 'blockbuster' drugs taken by millions of people, it may prove too costly for them to develop a vast array of individually tailored medicines.

A report on the ethical and policy issues surrounding pharmacogenetics, published by the Nuffield Trust last year, identified reduced availability of some medicines as a potential area of concern. Meanwhile, a report on pharmacogenetics carried out by the Department of Health entitled 'My very own medicine: What must I know?' cautioned that 'media excitement about genetic applications may be exaggerating investment and research activity' in this area. The results of the Royal Society inquiry are due to be published next summer. Individuals and organisations who wish to contribute evidence should contact the society, or visit its website.

Britain Launches Study Into Personalized Medicine
Reuters |  20 September 2004
Royal Society to investigate potential of personalised medicines
Royal Society |  20 September 2004
Scientists size up designer drugs
The Guardian |  20 September 2003
10 October 2005 - by BioNews 
Japanese companies have built a desk-top machine that allows doctors to check their patients' DNA before writing a prescription, the journal Nature reports. The device, which they say will be on sale for five million yen (£25,000) in a year's time, uses a single drop of blood and delivers results...
22 September 2005 - by BioNews 
The UK's Royal Society has published a report on the potential of pharmacogenetics - drug treatments tailored to a person's genetic make-up - following a year-long investigation into the subject. It concludes that although 'personalised medicines' have a promising future, it will be at least another 15-20 years before their use...
10 September 2004 - by BioNews 
A genetic test that helps predict how people will react to certain medicines has been approved for sale in the European Union, Swiss firm Roche Diagnostics has announced. The test, called the AmpliChip CYP450, detects variations in two genes that make key liver enzymes. Variations in the activity of these...
23 June 2004 - by BioNews 
Research into pharmacogenetics - the use of genetic tests to match medicines to a person's genetic make-up - is to receive £4 million of funding, Health Minister Lord Warner announced last week. The cash will go to six different research projects, which include studies on medicines used to prevent blood clots, epilepsy...
25 September 2003 - by BioNews 
The UK's Nuffield Council on Bioethics has published a report on the ethical and policy issues surrounding pharmacogenetics: the use of tests to match medicines to a person's genetic make-up. It concludes that although such tests may significantly improve the quality of patient care, it is still unclear how quickly...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.