Several pharmacies in B.C. have taken the first step toward a future where people can receive personalized drug dosages and treatments for a range of illnesses.

Recent advancements in personal genomics, where a patient's DNA is analyzed , is already helping doctors tailor treatments for cancer patients, but UBC scientists hope pharmacists will soon be able to access the technology as well.

"What we're trying to do is establish a process so that genetic information can be collected at the community pharmacy level, sent to UBC for sequencing, and stored securely," said Cam Bonell, a pharmacist at Lakeside Medicine Centre Pharmacy in Kelowna.

The B.C. Pharmacy Association says the research project, which aims to connect patients to the science of pharmacogenomics through community pharmacists, is the first of its kind in North America.

Doctors use pharmacogeonomics to tailor drug prescriptions to individual patients using DNA analysis.

Thirty-three pharmacies participated in the research project, funded by the BCPhA and Genome British Columbia.

A stepping stone

Participating pharmacies, like the one Bonell works at, collected saliva samples from volunteers and sent them to UBC for DNA sequencing. Researchers aim to establish baseline data for future studies, which they hope will include more pharmacies across Canada.

If future research is successful, doctors will be able to help pharmacists tailor drug selection and dosaged for each individual patient according to their DNA.

Although volunteers in this study do not receive any personalized treatment, many were optimistic about the idea, said Bonell.

"It worked fantastic. There was a lot of positive feedback from patients."

To listen to the full audio click the link labelled: Kelowna pharmacy participates in pharmacogenomics study.