The quest for genetic markers of adverse drug reactions – a novel National Sequencing Project

Published: 2017-12-18


Professor Mia Wadelius (Uppsala University) is the principal investigator of a research endeavor recently granted funding through the SciLifeLab National Sequencing Projects initiative. SciLifeLab gave her a call to learn more about how her team contributes to the understanding of why some people get severe adverse effects from medical drug treatments while others do not.


Congratulations Mia! You have been granted support for the project Whole genome sequencing to identify genetic causes of adverse drug reactions. How did it come about?
“Both my collaborator Assistant Professor Pär Hallberg and I have worked with adverse drug reactions at the Swedish Medical Products Agency. We were intrigued by the fact that a few people get severe adverse reactions, while the majority don’t. It is suspected that part of the risk to react adversely lies within our genes. Our aim is to investigate this by sequencing the DNA of 1000 patients that have experienced severe adverse effects of their medical drug treatment.”

What is the ultimate objective of finding genetic markers of adverse drug reactions?
“We are performing this research for two main reasons. Firstly, we hope to provide knowledge that can help create safer drugs. Secondly, it would be valuable if physicians knew which patients that are predisposed to getting adverse reactions already when prescribing drugs. Today, genomic data is very rarely available before starting treatment. We will change that by adding pharmacogenetic information to Genomic Medicine Sweden – a coordinated national integration of precisions medicine in Swedish health care, which is led by Richard Rosenquist Brandell at Karolinska Institutet.

Finally, what was your reaction when you found out that your research project will receive 10 million SEK worth of sequencing analyses using the SciLifeLab infrastructure?
“I was absolutely delighted to get such recognition after several years of initial research. Building the project definitely has been a team effort. Pär Hallberg and I really have great colleagues that enable us to perform this study.”

Mia Wadelius is Professor of Clinical Pharmacogenetics at Uppsala University and Senior Physician of Clinical Pharmacology at Akademiska Sjukhuset.