GENDEP aims to find a way to use information about patients' genes to help doctors decide which antidepressant treatment will work best for which patient, with the least side-effects.The European Commission awarded 7.5 M Euros to fund the GENDEP project, led by a team at the Medical Research Council's Social, Genetic, and Developmental Psychiatry Centre (SGDP).
Although there is abundant evidence for efficacy of antidepressants, a substantial minority of patients show an unsatisfactory response,
and cessation of medication because of adverse effects is common. The choice of what drug to prescribe for optimal response with minimum
unwanted effects is largely a matter of taking an educated guess. Pharmacogenetics offers considerable potential to provide tools to aid
targeted, rational prescribing. GENDEP has three closely interconnected major themes aimed to address these issues. The first is a large-scale
multi-centre human pharmacogenomics study focussed on the prediction of therapeutic response to antidepressants and adverse effects. The second
is a set of basic science studies using animal models and in vitro experiments, and the third is a programme of work to address the relevant
ethical, social, and legal issues. This project will include an integrative analysis of the results of the transcriptomics and proteomics on
the samples from the human, the rodent, and the in vitro studies, in order to identify biomarkers consistently identified across all of these
experimental methodologies. This integrated project should lead to validated pharmacogenomic methods for symptom improvement, the prediction
of response to psychiatric drug treatment and the reduction of adverse effects. We may also be able to make a beginning on identifying new targets
for drug discovery. GENDEP will examine such associated issues as the views of service users regarding consent in human pharmacogenomics studies,
a cost-benefit analysis of introducing pharmacogenomic theranostics, and the investigation of the potential impact of a new generation of
pharmacogenomically tailored treatments on patients' and consumers' views and attitudes. A key feature of the entire project is the active
research involvement of stakeholders, including psychiatric service users, practising clinicians and industrial partners.
Why is GENDEP important?
One in five people at some point in their lives suffer from an episode of
depression severe enough to warrant antidepressant treatment. But, at
present, choosing one antidepressant over another is largely a matter of
an educated guess. This means that patients may not get better on the
first drug they try, or they may get lots of side-effects.