Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are a major problem in modern medicine, leading to withdrawal of treatment, non-compliance with medication, permanent disability and death. This is particularly true for cancer treatment, with its potent medications. The vision of Go-PGx is to save lives and improve the quality of life of children with cancer, by using genomics-based precision health strategies to reduce the most common and serious ADRs in these children.
It is increasingly evident that genetic differences in patients can affect the likelihood of their developing an ADR. Drs. Bruce C. Carleton and Colin J. Ross, both of the University of British Columbia, are working to prevent these ADRs by developing lab tests to predict the likelihood of a childhood cancer patient developing an ADR and tools to incorporate these tests into clinical practice. Through Go-PGx, they will analyze more than 6,125 DNA samples and corresponding medication use and ADR outcome data to discover biomarkers that will reveal genetic susceptibility to ADRs and develop tools to educate and inform physicians and patients, beginning with five of the most severe ADRs in childhood cancer. They will also develop a comprehensive database linking clinical and genetic data as an accessible resource for researchers throughout the world. With the data they generate, they will begin providing testing at 10 pediatric cancer centres across Canada, while studying barriers and facilitators to the uptake of ADR screening in the health-care system, as well as the economic implications of introducing this kind of testing into clinical practice. The team will also develop peer-reviewed clinical practice guidelines before the project’s end and publish them within a year post-project.