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Partnership to foster research into genomics and personalized medicine


Vancouver, BC – Genome British Columbia has announced a new Personalized Medicine Program that will fund projects aimed at using genomic sciences to tailor improved medical treatments for patients. The announcement was made in partnership with the BC Cancer Foundation.

Other goals of the program include mitigating non-effective treatment options and using genomic knowledge in disease prevention and early diagnosis.

Funding for three applied genomics research projects totaling $9 million was also announced. $3 million of the funding comes from Genome BC, with the remainder coming from other Canadian and international sources secured by applicants.

One jointly supported research project is called “Genomics Applied to the Management of Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)”, and is led by Dr Aly Karsan, medical director of the Cancer Genetics Laboratory at the BC Cancer Agency and Dr Marco Marra, director of the BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre. Genome BC and the BC Cancer Foundation are contributing $1 million each to the AML project. Additional co-funding is provided through other sources including Simon Fraser University and Illumina.

The AML project will increase the use of genomic data to improve the therapeutic stratification of patients, thereby leading to more personalized treatment and hopefully improved outcomes.

“We are ecstatic to begin this project, which will identify all genetic markers and mutations associated with AML,” says Dr Aly Karsan, project lead and head of Clinical Diagnostic Genomics at the BC Cancer Agency. “We have a perfect storm of resources in BC, including tissue samples from the BC Cancer Agency’s unique hematology cell bank, cutting-edge, whole genome sequencing capabilities, and generous funding from Genome BC and the BC Cancer Foundation. These invaluable resources have come together to ensure we evolve the identification of genetic mutations in AML into a clinical tool to better treat each patient’s individual cancer.”

In addition to the AML project, Genome BC is funding “Clinical Implementation of Diagnostic Biomarker Assays in Heart and Kidney Transplantation” (project value over $2.5 million) and “Implementation of a Pharmacogenetic ADR Prevention Program in BC” (project value $3 million) through the Personalized Medicine Program.