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NIH Gives $15M to PGx Knowledge Resource

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of General Medical Sciences will spend $15 million to expand its pharmacogenomics web resource containing data on genetic variation and drug response, NIGMS said Tuesday.

The Pharmacogenomics Knowledge Base (PharmGKB) is a hub for international researchers that catalogs the links between human genetic variation and drug responses, and analyzes and integrates pharmacogenomic data.

PharmGKB, a free resource that was started 10 years ago and is free for the scientific community, identifies pathways that are affected by specific drugs and it offers summaries of the genes that influence a person's response to medicine.

"PharmGKB is a trusted source for curated knowledge about pharmacogenomics," NIGMS Director Jeremy Berg said in a statement. "It plays a critical role in moving us closer to the goal of personalized prescriptions, meaning each patient receives a safe and effective drug dose based on his or her individual characteristics."

The PharmGKB plans to use the $15 million of funding, which is to be spread over the next five years, to develop tools that automatically extract information from the biomedical literature and key databases; to focus on the molecular basis for drug toxicity and multiple-drug interactions, information that may help improve the safety and efficacy of medicines; to analyze human genomes, including a family that has volunteered to be studied; and to develop guidelines for doctors about the use of genetic tests to customize dosages when prescribing certain medicines.

In 2009, the PharmGKB program worked with researchers in Europe, Asia, South America, and the Middle East to study genetic factors that could be used to predict warfarin dosage, and it analyzed a person's entire genome to identify genetic variants associated with disease risk and drug reactions.

The PharmGKB staff includes six scientists and six software engineers.

This is the second announcement from the National Institutes of Health this week regarding funding for pharmacogenomics programs. Yesterday, the NIH unveiled $161 million in new grants to a number of universities and institutes that will focus on drug and gene interactions through the Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN).

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