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UK Awards $17M to Launch Three Stratified Medicine Consortia

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The UK's Medical Research Council has awarded £10.6 million ($17.1 million) to three new multi-partner projects that plan to develop genome-based personalized medicine approaches to treating rheumatoid arthritis, hepatitis, and Gaucher disease.

Funded under MRC's Translational Research Group, these grants will support three research consortia involving more than 50 partners from academia and industry, as well as non-profits and patients from around the UK, MRC said on Monday.

The funds were provided through a four-year, £60 million MRC effort focused on launching stratified medicine consortia.

One of the new projects, the MATURA consortium, will be led by Queen Mary, University of London and will include partners such as Complete Genomics, Qiagen, MedImmune, Amgen, among others. The partners will seek to discover genetic and biological markers in blood and joints that could be used to predict how a patient with rheumatoid arthritis will respond to anti-inflammatory drugs. This consortium is co-funded with a £1 million grant from Arthritis Research UK.

Another consortium, called STOP-HCV, will develop gene sequencing technologies aimed at discovering why 30 percent of people fail to respond to a new type of hepatitis treatment called direct antiviral therapy. The STOP-HCV partners will use samples from HCV Research UK, a clinical database and biorepository of blood samples from people infected with hepatitis C that is based at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research.

The other group, called the Gaucherite consortium, will study patients with Gaucher, a rare genetic disorder in which a build-up of fatty chemicals causes bleeding, skeletal pains, and swelling of internal organs. Although there are currently five treatments available for the disorder, patients may respond differently to them because it is a complex disease. These partners will use the funding to study at least 85 percent of all UK Gaucher patients and stratify them based on the nature of the disease and enable doctors to target treatments.

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