Attendees at the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival this weekend (Saturday, 17 and Sunday, 18 September) and new students attending Welcome Week events (Saturday, 17 to Sunday, 25 September) are being are being asked to take part in a project which aims to help create precision medicines in the future.
In a UK first the University of Liverpool, working with its health partners, have launched The Future Initiative which aims to gather more genetic information for businesses and researchers to help them revolutionise healthcare.
Modern medicine is incredibly data-intensive, especially now that doing a full genetic sequencing of patients is now a reality. New efforts to develop tailored treatments for illnesses—known as precision or personalised medicine—will need the collection and sharing data on an ‘enormous’ scale.
Led by Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, from the University’s Institute of Translational Medicine, the initiative aims to collect blood samples from 3000 healthy individuals to enable researchers to extract DNA from them. This will then be used to analyse the genes responsible for breaking down, and getting rid of, medicines in your body (drug metabolism).
Everyone varies in how their bodies handle medicines which can result in differences in how well drugs work in different people. By understanding these differences, researchers may be able to develop better dosing for medicines to reduce this variability.
The development of new and better medicines is vital for public health. When pharmaceutical companies or researchers are developing new medicines, or improving the use of existing medicines, a key step is the testing in phase I clinical trials (the testing of new and established medicines in humans).
Researchers often face difficulties when needing to recruit volunteers with specific genotic backgrounds for their studies. This project will enable businesses and researchers to submit proposals to identify relevant individuals in the cohorts that can be approached for involvement in more focused early Phase I drug trials/studies. These are the first tests of a new potential medicine in humans, and their purpose is to work out how the drug is handled by the body – and so what is the right dose to give to patients.
Representatives from the initiative will be in attendance at the Liverpool Food and Drink Festival in Sefton Park this weekend and at the Liverpool Guild of Students during this year’s Welcome Week.
The initiative is supported by Liverpool Health Partners and The Royal Liverpool University Hospital Trust.
Specific genetic makeup
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, David Weatherall Chair of Medicine and Vice President Clinical, British Pharmacological Society, said: “The Future Initiative aims to support researchers who want to develop more precise studies by providing a ready-made cohort of volunteers with defined genetic backgrounds who are willing to participate in clinical trials.
“All the volunteers will have been comprehensively genotyped to see how their bodies utilise and absorb certain drugs. We will be maintaining a long-term relationship with the volunteer so that they can be approached for recruitment to future studies irrespective of their geographical location.
“It will essentially provide researchers and businesses with a ‘one-stop-shop’ to recruit genotyped individuals for pharmacokinetic studies which examine the movement of drugs within the body.
“We are committed to making precision medicine a reality in the UK but we need the public’s help. This initiative will significantly increase the impact of our activities and those of our partners and external businesses. We expect this project to be highly effective as it will provide us all with the information we need to develop precision medicine solutions to help revolutionise global healthcare.”
Members of the public wanting to take part in the project can visit https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/health-and-life-sciences/future-initiative/home/ for more information.
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