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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: Active

There are many effective treatments for mental health conditions, including talk-based therapies and drugs. Currently, it is common for drug therapy to be used in BC. The choices of drugs include a range of antidepressants. For people with mental health conditions, 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 drugs — the efficacy of using particular drugs in treatment of an individual or the likelihood of the patient experiencing an adverse reaction. UBC researchers Dr. Stirling Bryan and Dr. Jehannine Austin have assembled a multidisciplinary team, including patient partners with lived experiences, that are keen to know if such testing should be routinely used in BC. The aim of this project is to gather the necessary information to assess how much improved health patients might see, as well as whether the testing is good value for money for the health system. 

The work will involve reviewing existing studies, to learn from the research of others, and collecting BC specific information from the records kept by the health care system. The team will also apply extensive stakeholder engagement, talking to patients, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, counsellors, and others providing care for patients with mental health conditions in BC.  

Together, this information will provide insight into the typical experiences of patients and, using a “simulation model”, count the health benefits to patients and the costs to the system of changing practice to include routine use of “pharmacogenomics” testing for depression. If the findings indicate that pharmacogenomics testing is good for patients and the health system, this information could be utilized to inform a change in care for depression in BC. Patients who are prescribed therapeutics to treat depression will benefit only when there is a high chance of them working and not giving side-effects.