Mayo Clinic Embarks on Population-Scale Pharmacogenomics Study

May 14, 2015

May 14, 2015 | Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., has announced plans to sequence genes from 10,000 patients for genetic variants that could affect their responses to a variety of medications, as part of a study that will track the long-term health outcomes of patients who undergo pharmacogenetic testing. Patients will be recruited from Mayo's large biobank, and a panel of 69 genes will be sequenced through a partnership with the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center in Houston, Texas. Results that Mayo believes could impact prescription decisions will be deposited straight into patients' electronic medical records (EMRs), giving physicians real-time information on their patients' genetic profiles at the time they choose medications.

“This is a huge step toward bringing knowledge of pharmacogenomics into patient care,” said Richard Weinshilboum of the Mayo Clinic's Center for Individualized Medicine in a statement.

Mayo Clinic has a history of aggressively pursuing pharmacogenomics, having become one of the first medical centers to use drug-gene pair information in its psychiatric programs in 2005. Several smaller pilot programs have also placed pharmacogenetic alerts in the Mayo Clinic EMR, including one cardiovascular disease program that recruited more than 1,000 patients from the Mayo Clinic biobank. “With advanced genetic testing, where we’re able to see the whole exome and the whole genome, we now have the ability to do a very comprehensive job of looking at all of the genes that may impact a given individual for many, many medications,” John Logan Black, co-director of Mayo's Personalized Genomics Laboratory, told Bio-IT World in our feature on bringing pharmacogenomics to the clinic, “The Right Drug the First Time.”

With its new 10,000-patient program, however, Mayo is taking the plunge to full population-scale pharmacogenomics across multiple disease areas, giving the medical center a unique opportunity to explore whether this kind of genetic testing delivers measurable benefits to patients.