Genomics continues to provide opportunities to advance various fields of medical practice that promise improvements in disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment, as well as informing our approaches to wellness, nutrition, and public health.
BC is home to many leading researchers who continually find innovative ways to apply this transformational science to improve health care delivery with precision. As a result, British Columbians continue to benefit from progress and advancements in health care, which are only made possible through continued investment.
Genome British Columbia (Genome BC) established the Sector Innovation Program (SIP) to support genomics research of strategic importance which has the long-term potential to address the needs and challenges affecting BC’s society and economy. Through the SIP program, Genome BC recently awarded four projects a total of $970k in funding that promise to advance the clinical application of precision health care in British Columbia.
- Shyh-Dar Li and Colin Ross of the University of British Columbia are working to overcome critical limitations with in vivo delivery of gene therapies using the CRISPR/Cas9 technology. Today, less than five per cent of human genetic diseases have approved treatments. The long-term goal of this research is to bring genome targeted therapeutics into mainstream health care.
- Dr Inanc Birol of BC Cancer and Dr. Caren Helbing of the University of Victoria are investigating the potential of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) as new treatment options that may protect against infection in a post-antibiotic era. As antibiotic resistance is a growing and very dangerous problem, the AMPs produced naturally by various animal and plant species may protect against infection, or reduce the harm caused by an existing infection.
- Stuart Turvey and Margaret McKinnon of BC Children’s Hospital and the University of British Columbia are leveraging next generation sequencing techniques to diagnose and define treatments for children with rare primary immunodeficiency diseases (PIDs), — a group of genetic disorders in which parts of the immune system are missing or dysfunctional. This study aims to define new treatment strategies that are individualized and targeted to that person’s exact needs.
- Liam Brunham of the University of British Columbia is investigating the use of a newly developed genetic test for Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH) in BC. FH is one of the most common human genetic diseases, affecting 1 in 250 individuals, with increased levels of cholesterol and risk for heart attacks and strokes. This research will enable understanding of the accuracy and usefulness of this test in a clinical setting toward improving diagnosis and lifesaving treatments for patients.
“The knowledge gained through these projects will be applied to improve disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.” said Dr. Catalina Lopez-Correa, Chief Scientific Officer and Vice President, Sectors, at Genome BC. “They also provide tangible evidence of how the day-to-day clinical application of genomics can inform patient care across the health care continuum, improving health outcomes for patients.”