“It is more important to know what kind of person suffers from a disease than what kind of disease a person suffers from,” said Hippocrates in the 4th century BC., laying the foundations for the development of Pharmacogenomics, which appears several centuries later.
Pharmacogenomics is a relatively new interdisciplinary field, focusing on understanding how genes can affect the human body’s response to certain drugs. Human genes carry small mutations, called polymorphisms, that are inherited and unchanged. These polymorphisms can affect the metabolism of a drug, increasing or decreasing the rate of its removal from the human body resulting in inadequate response and side effects of the administered drug, respectively.
Taking into account the above data, last year, the iGEM Patras 2020 team attempted to redefine the world of Medicine using Pharmacogenomics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Through them, the team developed a portable diagnostic molecular biology laboratory aiming at determining, easily and accurately, the required dose of statins, a category of drugs administered to patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases. Participating in the World Competition of Synthetic Biology, iGEM Competition 2020, organized on an annual basis by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the team managed to bring a global distinction in our country and to highlight the work of Greek Universities, winning a Silver Medal in the final phase of the Competition.
Having received the baton from last year, the iGEM Patras 2021 team continues its research work in the field of Pharmacogenomics, taking into account the need for further research, which is demonstrated by the findings of international research. Indicatively, according to a 2018 study, more than 600 billion dollars are spent annually worldwide to treat side effects caused by drugs, while less than 60% of patients seem to respond satisfactorily to the treatment given to them.
The iGEM Patras 2021 team, therefore, based on the results of last year’s study, aims to broaden the research questions.
More specifically, it seeks to identify new mutations in genes that are normally involved in the metabolism of first-line drugs in the treatment of various diseases and to evaluate the effect that they may have on this procedure. For this reason, two key liver enzymes are being studied, CYP2D6 and CYP2C19, which are involved in the metabolism of more than 500 drugs, in order to minimize the side effects of drugs that a patient is receiving.
The results will be presented at the iGEM Competition 2021, where the team will try to prove that you need nothing more than an appetite for work to achieve your goals, while helping to promote research and innovation. The iGEM Patras 2021 team was formed via the collaboration of the Laboratory of Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Therapy of the Pharmaceutical Department, the Laboratory of Engineering and Oscillations of the Department of Engineering & Aeronautics of the University of Patras and the “Diofantos” Institute of Computer Technology and Publishing.
The team consists of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral students of the Pharmaceutical Department, Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Department, Chemical Engineering Department of the University of Patras, Informatics & Computer Engineering Department of the University of Thessaly and Economics Department of the Open University of Cyprus.