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sector_ico_Health_trans Human Health

Towards clinical implementation of pharmacogenomics to improve the treatment of people with depression in BC

  • Project Leaders: Stirling Bryan, Jehannine Austin
  • Institutions: University of British Columbia (UBC)
  • Budget: $1500795
  • Program/Competition: Regional Priorities Partnership Program (RP3)
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome Canada
  • Fiscal Year: 2019
  • Status: Closed

One in 10 Canadians will experience major depression during their lives, and for people with major depressive disorder (MDD), finding a medication that both works and does not cause severe side effects is often a matter of trial-and-error. “Pharmacogenomics” is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to medication — the effectiveness of using a particular medication in treating an individual or the likelihood of the patient experiencing an adverse reaction. This project aimed to gather the necessary information to assess how much improved health patients might see with the use of pharmacogenomic testing in MDD, as well as whether the testing is good value for money for the health system. 

The research team worked with patient partners, healthcare professionals and other stakeholders to develop a “simulation model” to simulate the journey of patients with MDD from diagnosis through treatment, possible recurrence of their depression and recovery, using more than 1500 parameters. The model measured the health benefits to patients and the costs to the system of changing practice to include routine use of pharmacogenomics testing for depression. The simulation model — explained in a youtube tutorial — compared this predicted journey for almost 200,000 patients with and without pharmacogenomic testing and showed that implementing pharmacogenomic testing in BC could result in fewer deaths, fewer hospitalizations, and significant savings to the provincial public healthcare system, over a period of 20  years. The research was published in the high impact Canadian Medical Association Journal, and was covered in the media by the Vancouver Sun and The Globe and Mail, amongst other outlets.   



CMAJ publication: 

Vancouver Sun: 

Globe and Mail: