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Personalized Medicine

Pharmacogenomics is the study of human genetics in relation to individuals’ different responses to drugs. This helps in prescribing personalized medicine and reducing allergies and side effects due to use of the wrong medicine. Pharmacogenomics is a powerful tool for drug selection for individual patients so as to reduce the chance of unwanted side effects and the failure of treatment. A reduction in drug side effects can also bring down the cost of treatment. This is particularly beneficial for developing countries with limited resources like Thailand. TCELS is supporting the Pharmacogenomics Project of Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University. 

Under the Pharmacogenomics project, research is also being carried out on the five key diseases that threaten the health of Thais: thalassemia, diseases of the cardiovascular system, AIDS, leukemia in children and dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase disease (DPD).

Among the top 10 drugs responsible for causing adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in the Thai population, many predictive genomic markers have been found for eight drugs that can be used to screen out those with a high risk of severe ADR. Pharmacogenomics can provide doctors with information to tailor treatments to each individual, rendering low-cost, off-patent drugs almost as effective as modern medicines but with fewer side effects.

These consist of a group of anticonvulsant drugs (Carbamazepine, Phenobarbital, and Phenytoin), the drug treatment for Gout (Allopurinol), and the group of national first-line antiretroviral drugs (Nevirapine, Efavirenz, Abacavir and Starvudine).

The pharmacogenomics program has yielded tangible products, including genetic test kits for AIDS, cardiovascular diseases, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The project has been approved to receive a patent for the process that identifies a correlation between a person’s genetics and their allergy to the drugs Nevirapine and Stavudine, commonly known as d4T-based drugs for AIDS treatment. In collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) and the Riken Institute of Tokyo University, there is now an established unit for Pharmacogenomics and Bioinformatics and a laboratory for genetic analysis that meets the ISO 15189: 2007 standard.

Currently, the pharmacogenomics program is focusing on RICP (rare/genetic diseases; infectious diseases; cancers; and Pharmacogenomics), whereby the whole genome is sequenced and then analyzed by a panel of experts. They examine the rare/genetic diseases, like autism which run genetically; infectious diseases, such as HIV; cancers that are treatable if the genome sequence is known; and all of this is done through Pharmacogenomics.

Building on the success of this pharmacogenomics program, TCELS is currently developing a personalized medicine based business model that can be a spin off from the capabilities and assets of this project.