|Launching a Global Alliance for Pharmacogenomics|
U.S. and Japanese Scientists Partner to Study Genetic Factors
that Influence the Safety and Effectiveness of Medicines
Leaders at the National Institutes of Health and the Center for
Genomic Medicine in Japan have signed a letter of intent creating
a Global Alliance for Pharmacogenomics. The effort aims to identify
genetic factors that contribute to individual responses to medicines,
including rare and dangerous side effects. The results of such
work will eventually help doctors optimize the safety and effectiveness
of drugs for each patient.
U.S. scientists joining the alliance are members of the NIH Pharmacogenetics
Research Network, a consortium of research groups that study how
genetic factors influence the way drugs work in and are handled
by the body.
Japanese scientists in the alliance represent the newly created
Center for Genomic Medicine, a component of the RIKEN Yokohama
Institute that conducts high-throughput analyses of human genes
involved in diseases and drug responses.
Signers of the agreement include the directors of three of the
National Institutes of Health: Jeremy M. Berg, Ph.D., director
of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences; Elizabeth
G. Nabel, M.D., director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood
Institute; and John E. Niederhuber, M.D., director of the National
"By bringing together our resources, we will advance the understanding
of how changes in DNA affect our responses to medicines. Thus we
can begin to realize the promise of personalized medicine," said
Yusuke Nakamura, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Genomic
Medicine at RIKEN.
"We expect this international agreement to speed scientific discovery
and the translation of results into improved treatments for cancer,
heart disease and other serious conditions," said NIH Director
Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D. "Ultimately, physicians worldwide will
be able to tailor the treatment of each patient — one of the great
frontiers of health care today."
Initial projects will focus on:
- Understanding genetic factors that influence the effectiveness
of breast cancer treatments (aromatase inhibitors)
- Determining the optimal length of treatment for two drugs used
to treat early stage breast cancer (cyclophosphamide and either
doxorubicin or paclitaxel)
- Discovering new genetic factors linked to serious side effects
from certain pancreatic cancer drugs (gemcitabine and bevacizumab)
- Exploring how genes contribute to drug-induced long QT syndrome,
an irregular heart rhythm that can cause sudden cardiac arrest
- Working with the International Warfarin Consortium to tailor
initial doses of the anti-clotting drug warfarin based on the
genetic profiles of patients
A steering committee will manage the alliance and will meet twice
a year to discuss progress, future directions, intellectual property
issues, the approval of additional members and communication with
the public. Alliance members will share their data and their research
results with the scientific community.
The letter of intent is available at http://www.nigms.nih.gov/Initiatives/PGRN/GAP/.
This site also includes acknowledgements of the research centers
that provided DNA samples essential to perform the work.
To interview signers of the letter of intent or scientists involved
in the Global Alliance for Pharmacogenomics, please contact the
NIGMS Office of Communications and Public Liaison at 301-496-7301
The RIKEN Center for Genomic Medicine (http://www.src.riken.jp/english),
formerly named the SNP Research Center, is known as a major contributor
to the International HapMap project. The Center aims to advance
the practice of personalized medicine through conducting whole-genome
association studies to find genetic variations associated with
disease susceptibility and drug responses.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (http://www.nigms.nih.gov)
supports basic biomedical research that is the foundation for advances
in disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov)
plans, conducts, and supports research related to the causes, prevention,
diagnosis, and treatment of heart, blood vessel, lung, and blood
diseases; and sleep disorders. The Institute also administers national
health education campaigns on women and heart disease, healthy
weight for children, and other topics.
The National Cancer Institute (http://www.cancer.gov/) conducts
and supports research, training, health information dissemination,
and other programs with respect to the cause, diagnosis, prevention,
and treatment of cancer, rehabilitation from cancer, and the continuing
care of cancer patients and the families of cancer patients.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.