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Genome BC, Partners Fund Personalized Medicine Program

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Genome British Columbia has started a new Personalized Medicine Program, which includes financial support from the non-profit BC Cancer Foundation, by awarding an initial investment of around C$9 million ($9.4 million) in funding to three studies.

The new program seeks to use genomics research to tailor improved treatments for patients, to mitigate ineffective treatments and side effects, and to use genomic knowledge in disease prevention and early diagnosis.

Genome BC is contributing C$3 million to the projects with the remaining funds being provided by other sources, including the BC Cancer Foundation, as well as Illumina and Simon Fraser University.

One of the studies will seek to increase the use of genomic data for stratifying patients with acute myeloid leukemia and to enable more personalized treatments. That study also will identify all the genetic markers and mutations associated with the disease.

Another of the efforts will use around C$2.5 million for research for the clinical implementation of diagnostic biomarker assays in heart and kidney transplantation.
A third project will use around C$3 million for research to implement a pharmacogenetic ataxia-deafness-retardation prevention program in BC.

“Our hope is that the Personalized Medicine Program will be the foundation on which a larger initiative would be funded to implement the translation of innovations based in genomics into the health system,” Genome BC's President and CEO Alan Winter said in a statement.

“The funded projects will demonstrate the impact of applied genomics on improving patient outcomes and maximizing the benefit of the healthcare dollars we spend," BC's Public Health Services Authority President and CEO Lynda Cranston said in a statement.

"We have a perfect storm of resources in BC, including tissue samples from the BC Cancer Agency’s unique hematology cell bank, cutting-edge, whole genome sequencing capabilities, and generous funding from Genome BC and the BC Cancer Foundation," added Aly Karsan, project lead on the AML study and head of Clinical Diagnostic Genomics at the BC Cancer Agency.

"These invaluable resources have come together to ensure we evolve the identification of genetic mutations in AML into a clinical tool to better treat each patient’s individual cancer," Karsan said.

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