Established in 2012, the Tanenbaum Centre for Pharmacogenetics has become an international leader in gene-guided treatment for mental illness. With the philanthropic support of Larry and Judy Tanenbaum, the Government of Ontario and other generous donors, scientists at the Tanenbaum Centre have spent the last decade developing a better understanding of how individual genetics influence the way people respond to different treatments for mental illness and addictions.
Gene-guided treatments enable patients to receive personalized care based on their optimal treatment plan to reduce symptoms of illness and minimize side effects. One promising research study through the Tanenbaum Centre has shown that pharmacogenetics has improved symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant depression. Over the last ten years, more than 10,000 patients have been referred for pharmacogenetic testing through CAMH by over 3,000 clinicians across Ontario.
While similar work is being done in cancer and pain management, CAMH is one of the world leaders in psychiatric applications of this research, thanks in part to the over $15 million of federal and private grants awarded to the Tanenbaum Centre to support this critical work. Over the last ten years, the Tanenbaum Centre has collaborated with more than 160 national and international organizations. This includes engaging with 100+ Canadian and international research centres and hospitals, federal and national agencies and direct industry partnerships. All while empowering the next generation of pharmacogenetics researchers and trainees.
The work of the Tanenbaum Centre has already had global impacts, including:
- With industry support, 23 patents have issued in as many as 13 countries protecting our 4 novel genetic tests. This includes a patented panel of genes that have been shown to help patients starting on antipsychotic medications assess their unique risk profiles related to severe weight gain from these types of drugs prior to beginning their treatment. Ultimately, this test ensures that patients receive medication most appropriate to their genetic risk profile and reduces the potential for this adverse side effect;
- Over 400 peer-reviewed publications; and
- 58 publications with an international consortium made up of 800+ international scientists from across 36 countries.
“We’ve made great strides towards breaking down barriers and increasing much-needed capacity in the healthcare system. In 2018, the Tanenbaum Centre released a study demonstrating that the use of pharmacogenetics led to improved patient outcomes whether a psychiatrist or primary care physician was treating them,” said Dr. James Kennedy, Director, Tanenbaum Centre for Pharmacogenetics. “This allowed pharmacogenetic tests to be made available to a much larger group of people through their family physicians, as opposed to only patients being treated by a psychiatrist.”
While they have achieved so much over the last ten years, researchers at the Tanenbaum Centre for Pharmacogenetics are just getting started! Over the next ten years, they hope to get a proprietary CAMH pharmacogenetic test out to the community, leverage pharmacogenetics to help address the opioid crises by using genetic predictors to determine individuals at a higher risk of overdosing, and continue improving pharmacogenetic testing through future clinical trials.
Through the continued support of its partners, the Tanenbaum Centre envisions a future where every medication prescription for mental illness is guided by a patients’ unique genetic profile, enabling a faster and more effective recovery.