News archive 2005
Agreement allows personalised medicine for schizophrenia08 Nov 2005, PR 96/05
Clinicians will soon be able to tailor the management of medication for schizophrenia to the needs of the patient thanks to an agreement between King's College London and LGC, Europe's leading independent analytical laboratory.
From early January 2006, LGC will offer the first DNA test to assess patients' responsiveness to an antipsychotic drug for schizophrenia, called clozapine. This test was developed following 13 years of research by Professor Robert Kerwin and Dr Maria Arranz from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's.
Schizophrenia is considered the most chronic, debilitating and costly mental illness and affects between one and two per cent of all populations. There is no permanent cure, but symptoms of the illness can be controlled by antipsychotic drugs. Not all patients benefit from treatment, however, and up to 40 per cent of patients do not show a complete response. This is known as Treatment Resistant Schizophrenia (TRS).
The antipsychotic, clozapine, is the only licensed drug with proven efficiency in the treatment of TRS, but it is also known for its potentially serious side effects. For this reason it is commonly only prescribed to patients when other medicines have failed.
The test that LGC will offer will assess whether a patient with schizophrenia will respond positively to clozapine by analysing the presence of small variations in DNA obtained from the patients through a blood test.
Dr Paul Debenham, Director of Life Sciences at LGC, said: ‘This new prediction test of treatment response to clozapine should prove to be an extremely valuable tool for clinicians, aiding them in their prescribing choice of antipsychotic drug for their patients. It will mean that clozapine can be prescribed much earlier on in the treatment of patients who are predicted to be responsive to the drug, thus reducing the suffering time of the patient and the associated cost of care. We are therefore delighted to be in a position to offer this kind of screening service to clinicians for the first time.'
King's Professor Robert Kerwin said: ‘This agreement follows 13 years of research at IoP into treatment for schizophrenia, working with more than 200 patients treated with clozapine. We are delighted to be sharing the results of our research and to be working with LGC to be able to bring this test into fruition.'
Dr Paul Debenham and Professor Kerwin will be giving a presentation to discuss this new screening service at the 'Good Practice in Biological Investigation' conference at Institute of Psychiatry, Denmark Hill campus, King's College London, on Tuesday 8 November 2005.
Notes to editors
Professor Robert Kerwin
Robert Kerwin is professor of Clinical Neuropharmacology and honorary consultant psychiatrist at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London and the Maudsley Hospital, where he is head of a large research group (see group website). He is also head of Clinical Pharmacology and honorary consultant physician at the School of Medicine, King's College London. Professor Kerwin trained in medicine at Cambridge and Westminster Medical School and in neuropharmacology at the University of Bristol.
Institute of Psychiatry
The Institute of Psychiatry (www.iop.kcl.ac.uk) is part of King's College London and closely affiliated to the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. The Institute is a world-renowned centre for treatment, research and training in psychiatry and mental health. The organisation is involved in pioneering new and improved ways of understanding and treating mental illness and brain disease. Its wide-ranging field of work includes depression, eating disorders, brain imaging, genetics and psychosis.
The Institute was one of only two organisations in the field of psychiatry which received a five star rating in the 2001 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) conducted by the UK's higher education funding councils. The exercise, which is conducted every five years, enables the funding councils to distribute public funds for research selectively on the basis of quality.
King's College London
King's College London (www.kcl.ac.uk) is one of the two oldest and largest colleges of the University of London with over 13,800 undergraduate students and nearly 5,700 postgraduates in nine schools of study. It is a member of the Russell Group: a coalition of the UK's major research-based universities.
The College has had 24 of its subject-areas awarded the highest rating of 5* and 5 for research quality, demonstrating excellence at an international level, and it has recently received an excellent result in its audit by the Quality Assurance Agency. King's is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings, with income from grants and contracts of £100 million, and has an annual turnover of more than £348 million. In 2004 the College was once again awarded an AA- financial credit rating from Standard & Poor's.
LGC (www.lgc.co.uk), a science service company, is Europe's leading independent provider of analytical and diagnostic services and reference standards. LGC's market-led divisions - Forensic Services, Food Chain and Environment, Life Sciences, Pharmaceutical and Chemical Services and LGC Promochem (for Reference Materials) - operate in a diverse range of sectors for both public and private sector customers. LGC already actively offers pharmacogenetic analyses associated with drug metabolising enzymes. Its research-led Analytical Technology and Government Chemist division houses specialist laboratories for the delivery of contracts under the DTI's National Measurement System and to serve its role as the UK's National Measurement Institute for chemical and biochemical analysis.
Growing at around 15 per cent per annum and majority-owned by funds managed by Legal & General Ventures since April 2004, LGC is headquartered in Teddington, Middlesex, UK. LGC has laboratories located in Teddington, Runcorn (Cheshire), Edinburgh (Scotland), and Luckenwalde (Germany). LGC also has offices in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Sweden and India. Following the all-share acquisition by LGC of Forensic Alliance Limited (FAL) in August 2005, FAL is now a member of the LGC Group. FAL has laboratories in Culham (Oxfordshire), Risley (Cheshire), Tamworth (Staffordshire) and a specialist firearms facility in conjunction with the Royal Armouries in Leeds. LGC has also formed a joint venture in proficiency testing comprising Quality Management Limited and Aquacheck Limited.
LGC's DNA diagnostic and point-of-care applications
Since 2002, LGC has continued to research and develop its rapid DNA diagnostics technology, HyBeacons®, which could enable GPs and hospital clinicians to have access to, and offer, point-of-care personal genetic tests. This DNA probe technology can provide genetic results from a simple saliva sample in less than 30 minutes and insight gained from further research has led to new levels of mechanistic understanding and detection sensitivity (up to 50-fold) which has resulted in a new patent submission. The research has also established the capabilities of the technology to work directly with clinical samples, as well as its suitability for application in high throughput laboratory-based analysis, for the detection of infectious human pathogens such as MRSA and influenza. A near commercial test for the diagnosis of human sexually transmitted diseases, including chlamydia, has been trialled in a clinical setting at the Royal Free Hospital in London. In December 2004, LGC granted a licence to Osmetech plc to use HyBeacon DNA probes in medical genetic test applications for analyte specific reagents (ASRs) that indicate inherited genetic traits.
Wendy Taylor, PR Executive, LGC
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