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SureGene, Medco Research Partner on PGx Study for Antipsychotic Drugs

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — SureGene and Medco Research Institute today announced a pharmacogenomic collaboration to test whether genetic variations can help predict response to widely prescribed antipsychotic drugs.

SureGene and MRI, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Medco Health Solutions, will conduct a prospective study to investigate biomarkers previously identified by SureGene, and validate their utility as predictors of efficacy and safety for drugs prescribed to patients with mental illnesses.

In addition, they will evaluate the cost effectiveness of using SureGene's biomarkers as a standard part of clinical care for mental illness, the two firms said in a statement. No methods are currently commercially available to distinguish which drugs may be optimal for a patient. SureGene, based in Louisville, Ky., said it has a genetic test, however, that has demonstrated the ability to stratify drug efficacy of atypical antipsychotics, such as olanzapine and risperidone.

Depending on the results, the study could lead to the development of genetic tests to help physicians "make more precise prescribing decisions," the companies said.

Studies have indicated that less than one-third of patients suffering from schizophrenia and related disorders see an improvement in symptoms from the first drug prescribed to them, and poor response and side effects can lead to low compliance to drug regimens among patients. SureGene and MRI said that about half of patients stop using their prescribed drugs within six months of starting a prescription.

MRI will collect about 2,000 DNA samples from plan members who agree to participate for the study, called Relative Effectiveness of Schizophrenia Therapy.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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