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AZ to screen 80,000 patients for genetic disease traits

Will work with Montreal Heart to investigate cardiovascular and diabetic signals

AstraZeneca AZ headquarters London UK 

AstraZeneca is to collaborate with the Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) to investigate genomes of up to 80,000 patients for genes associates with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.

Under the partnership, MHI will genotype the DNA samples from AZ's extensive biobank to look into their complication and treatment outcomes. The samples include both blood and tissue samples that have been collected over 12 years from consenting patients who have entered clinical trials for relevant diseases.

Ruth March, VP personalised healthcare and biomarkers at AZ, commented: “We're delighted to be working with the Montreal Heart Institute, which has the expertise and technological know-how to deliver this transformational programme which will unlock an unprecedented amount of genetic information about cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. 

“Together, we are taking personalised healthcare beyond its great heritage in oncology to bring targeted medicines to patients with cardiovascular disease and diabetes using biomarkers and diagnostic tests.”

MHI's Beaulieu-Saucier Pharmacogenomics Centre will first identify regions of DNA that predispose to or cause cardiovascular diseases or diabetes or are associated with responses to treatment. 

Researchers will then apply further technologies to carry out full gene sequencing of areas of interest in order to identify new genes associated with the diseases. 

Dr Jean-Claude Tardif, director of the Montreal Heart Institute Research Centre, added: “This large-scale partnership between AstraZeneca and the Montreal Heart Institute holds great potential for breakthroughs in personalised cardiovascular medicine and diabetes whereby medications will be tailored to responsive patients based on their genetic profile. 

“Here at the MHI Pharmacogenomics Centre we have the expertise and high-throughput genomic platforms to carry out successfully and efficiently this important research programme.”

The knowledge and information gained will be applied to the development of new medicines tailored to treat subsets of patients with particular genetic profiles, enabling a personalised healthcare approach to the use of existing treatments.

AZ will work with MHI to publish findings in peer-reviewed journals to further contribute to scientific understanding of the disease conditions.

The announcement comes just days after AZ teamed up with Sutter Health on a research collaboration on cardiometabolic healthcare.

Article by
Kirstie Pickering

14th May 2015

From: Research

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