The U.S. scientists involved are members of the NIH Pharmacogenetics Research Network, including David Flockhart, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and of medical genetics and chief of the division of pharmacology at the IU School of Medicine.
The Global Alliance for Pharmacogenomics is a broad-based effort to use genetic information to better understand why patients react differently to drugs, both in terms of side effects and the drugs’ effectiveness. The agreement was reached between the NIH and the newly-created Center for Genomic Medicine in Japan.
Dr. Flockhart will participate in a Global Alliance research study to better understand the role of genetic factors in the effectiveness of aromatase inhibitors, a class of breast cancer drugs that can help block the growth of tumors by reducing the amount of estrogen in the body.
Dr. Flockhart, a member of the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center, already is researching how genetic factors affect how the body metabolizes aromatase inhibitors and the role of genetics in side effects from those drugs as part of a five-year, $12 million research project funded by the National Institutes of Health.
Previously Dr. Flockhart’s research determined that some women do not respond well to the breast cancer drug tamoxifen because of a genetic change that affects how their bodies metabolize the drug. He also has reported that the anti-depressant drug Paxil can block the effectiveness of tamoxifen.