Montreal Institute and AstraZeneca Work on Heart and Diabetes Genetic Screens

May 13, 2015
Montreal Institute and AstraZeneca Work on Heart and Diabetes Genetic Screens
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The Montreal Heart Institute (MHI) agreed to collaborate with AstraZeneca to search the genomes of up to 80,000 patients for genes associated with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, their complications, and treatment outcomes. The goal is to drive understanding of the biologic mechanisms underlying these conditions and their complications and to uncover which genetic traits are linked to better treatment outcomes.

MHI will genotype up to 80,000 DNA samples from AstraZeneca's biobank. The samples include both tissue and blood samples which have been collected over a period of 12 years under informed consent from patients who have entered clinical trials to test cardiovascular or diabetes treatments.

MHI's Beaulieu-Saucier Pharmacogenomics Centre will initially use an approach called genome-wide SNP analysis to identify regions of DNA that predispose to, or cause, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes or are associated with responses to treatments. They will then apply other technologies, such as next generation sequencing, to carry out full gene sequencing of areas of interest to identify new genes associated with disease, with disease complications such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetic nephropathy, or retinopathy, and with treatment outcomes in terms of responsiveness to medication.

The knowledge gained from genotyping the samples will be applied to the development of new medicines tailored to treat subsets of patients with particular genetic profiles, according to officials at AstraZeneca. The information will also enable a personalized healthcare approach to the use of existing treatments, which means using specific medicines to treat the patient populations which are most likely to respond, noted Ruth March, vp, personalized healthcare & biomarkers at AstraZeneca.

“This partnership has the potential to deliver an unprecedented amount of clinical and scientific information about cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. We expect to identify genes that are associated with more severe forms of disease, and those that are associated with treatment outcome,” continued March. “The information will help us to develop new medicines for these conditions and to target them to the patients who respond best using biomarkers and companion diagnostic tests. We're delighted to be working with the Montreal Heart Institute who has the expertise and technological know-how to deliver such a transformational program. Together we are taking personalized healthcare beyond its great heritage in oncology to benefit patients with cardiovascular disease and diabetes."

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