20 September 2004
An investigation into the potential for designing drug treatments based on a person’s genetic makeup has been launched today (Monday 20 September 2004) by the Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science.
Most current drugs are not effective for 100 per cent of the population and some work in as few as 30 to 50 per cent of cases. Pharmacogenetics, the study of how genetic factors influence a person’s response to a drug, is seen as a way of making treatments as safe and effective as possible for every individual. However, reservations have been expressed about the ability of this technology to fulfil such claims, what it might cost, how soon it could be achieved and if it would impact negatively on the modern healthcare system.
Sir David Weatherall, chair of the working group that will conduct the study, said: "Recent developments in understanding the biology and mechanisms of disease together with increased knowledge of genes have the potential to lead to major advances in healthcare over the next few decades. This study will look at whether pharmacogenetics, the designing of drug treatments based on a person’s genetic makeup, is a scientifically achievable aim, be it five, ten or 25 years from now. Equally importantly it will look at whether healthcare systems in the UK and elsewhere have the resources to implement such technologies and what the pharmaceutical industry’s assessment is of the significant investment needed to try and develop them in the first place."
The Royal Society report will be published in summer 2005. Individuals and organisations that are interested in contributing evidence should contact the Society or look at the Call for Evidence on the website
For further information contact:
Tim Watson or Bob Ward
Press and Public Relations
The Royal Society, London
Tel: 020 7451 2508/2510 or 07811 320346