Genomic testing pilot project in Hope

Genomic testing could revolutionize the face of medicine, while preventing human suffering.

Lindsay Kufta at the Hope Pharmasave is heading up a groundbreaking genomic research project that could potentially revolutionize the face of medicine forever and give the public access to med-ready pharmacists.

Local pharmacist Lindsay Kufta is on the brink of groundbreaking research at the Hope Pharmasave in a pilot genomics project that could potentially change the face of medicine forever.

“I’m excited to be to be involved in a project that could greatly improve patient care through genome science,” Kufta told The Hope Standard

Kufta’s pharmacy has been selected as one of 20 B.C. pharmacies participating in research geared toward bringing personalized medicine to patients, by utilizing the skills of the modern day community pharmacist.

The Genomics for Precision Drug Therapy in the Community Pharmacy project is an original in North America and is based on the comprehensive life’s work of Corey Nislow PhD, associate professor at the faculty of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of British Columbia.

“I am passionate about my work and what it means for patients who are suffering with conditions that need an immediate and targeted solution,” Nislow told The Hope Standard.

The extensive and phenomenal research is funded by the B.C. Pharmacy Association (BCPhA) and Genome BC, with the research aspect of it headed up by Nislow at UBC.

Community pharmacists such as Kufta will be collecting saliva samples from a test group to determine how an individual’s unique DNA can impact medication dosage and selection. This could potentially save time, money, and lives in terms of allocating correct dosing and meds to those most in need during critical periods.

“We are starting with warfarin but the implication is that it could help people in dire need — people in hospitals who are trying to find the right dose for anti-depressants and are having to struggle to find it and the right medications and it takes a couple of weeks to kick in,” he said.

Standard operating procedures are firmly in place for the collection of patient saliva samples, as well as the protocol for sequencing and processing the DNA samples by the UBC researchers.

“This project is about using an individual’s DNA to make decisions about which medications are right for them — the right dosage at the right time,” Kufta told the Hope Standard.

20 community pharmacies across the province are recruiting 200 volunteer patients, who have been prescribed the drug warfarin, an anticoagulation drug that will be the signature drug of the study.

“We chose the drug based on the amount of B.C.’s residents using it, as well as the impact of under or over medicating during the coagulation process, which can have serious  complications,” said Nislow.

The aim of the project is to implement DNA as a type of coding to make accurate decisions about prescribed medications, allowing for personalized medicine to be accessible in the right amount for all patients across the province.

“If we can get this trial project up and running there is hope to facilitate the real thing, which could revolutionize the face of medicine,” he said.

The success of the study would ensure that over 1,200 community pharmacies B.C. wide would have access to this type of testing, regardless of geographical location.

“Pharmacists who are experts in medication, are the health-care practitioners best positioned to help make medication selection and dosing decisions,” said Geraldine Vance, CEO of the BC Pharmacy Association.