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Personalized medicine - physicians treating patients based on their DNA - is becoming a reality. This innovative area of medicine recognizes that genetic variations make people vulnerable to certain diseases and that the most effective drug treatments should work with, not against, their unique genetic code.
The Personalized Medicine Program at London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) - led by world-renowned clinical pharmacologist Dr. Richard Kim - endeavours to understand the genetic differences between individual patients and, in doing so, provide more effective treatments with fewer side effects.
Dr. Kim initiated Canada's first personalized medicine clinic here at LHSC (2008), starting with patients on the blood thinner warfarin, and has expanded to patients on cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins and breast cancer patients on tamoxifen.
With a core group of personalized medicine experts located at LHSC, we now have the chance to be the first in Canada to develop a fully integrated personalized medicine program within a hospital setting - serving our patients who are most at risk and allowing for more individual, safe and effective drug treatments for the people of London and Southwestern Ontario.
Preventing Adverse Drug Reactions
Adverse drug reactions are responsible for about 6,800 visits to London emergency rooms each year; they are the fourth-leading cause of death among hospitalized patients.
Through this initiative, LHSC inpatients will have their genetic makeup assessed following the completion of a blood test. This will allow doctors to select the right dose of the right drug for each patient - facilitating recovery, preventing drug-related readmissions to hospital and ensuring that such information is maintained as a part of the patient's record for future care.
Optimizing Cancer Therapies
Cancer is Canada's leading cause of death. Benefit from chemotherapy is obtained when the dose of the drug used is sufficiently high to result in tumour-cell death, but low enough to prevent significant harm to the patient. However, current drug therapy is an iterative process of trial and error and can lead to poor outcomes for some patients.
Through this project and its required technology, a newly diagnosed cancer patient's DNA will be tested (genotyped). This will enable doctors to select the best possible drug(s) and dosing for individual cancer patients.
Personalized Medicine Laboratory
Personalized medicine research requires a dedicated laboratory - a core facility featuring state-of-the-art equipment where scientists and technologists work side by side. At present, LHSC's personalized medicine team and research equipment are situated in various locations.
The new personalized medicine laboratory, to be located in redesigned space at University Hospital, will be the engine for personalized medicine at LHSC - facilitating synergies and information sharing, as well as genetic discoveries that will directly impact patient care.