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Pioneering genetic biobank to start recruiting patients on stroke prevention medicines

By February 21, 2024No Comments

The pioneering Yellow Card Biobank, a pilot launched by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Genomics England, has begun investigating a new group of medicines used to prevent strokes known as Direct Oral Anticoagulants.

The Yellow Card Biobank aims to help understand how a patient’s genetic makeup can impact the safety of their medicines and forms part of a long-term vision for more personalised medicine approaches.

Approved scientists will use the genetic information in the Biobank to investigate whether a side effect from a medicine was caused by a specific genetic trait. This would in turn enable healthcare professionals to personalise prescriptions using rapid screening tests, so patients across the UK will receive the safest medication for them, based on their genetic makeup.

Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs), or side effects, continue to be a significant burden on the NHS and account for one in 16 hospital admissions. These screening tests would therefore provide the opportunity to prevent these adverse drug reactions from happening.

The MHRA is asking anyone who has experienced excessive bleeding following the use of Direct Oral Anticoagulants to report it to the Yellow Card scheme. Patients who submit Yellow Cards (or have submitted one previously) may be contacted to ask if they would consent to providing further information and submitting a small blood sample. This information will then be used to explore whether some people are at a higher risk of excessive bleeding due to their genetic makeup, with the overall aim of reducing the occurrence of serious side effects.

The Yellow Card Biobank launched in June 2023. The initial phase of the pilot started with a medicine called Allopurinol and related rare severe skin reactions, including Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN). Participant recruitment for both topics is now underway.

The sequencing of the participants’ genetic material will begin in Spring 2024, with initial research findings from the pilot expected in 2025. Genomics England is collaborating with the MHRA providing the sequencing and storage of genetic material through use of their well-established and secure infrastructure.

Patients who get involved will be visited at home or at another location convenient for them by a nurse, who will then take a small blood sample to be added to the Biobank and sequenced. Participants’ data will be de-identified and added to the National Genomic Research library, a platform that allows approved researchers to access genomic and other associated health data via a secure research environment.

Those that would be interested in getting involved should visit the Yellow Card Biobank page for future updates between now and the end of the pilot phase in late March 2025.

Ben Kemp