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Drugmaker dives into personalized medicine for asthma, heart disease

The company will be working on a diagnostic test that would work with an experimental asthma drug, as well as working with scientists on genes relating to heart disease.

When it comes to personalized medicines, the talk usually surrounds cancer, but AstraZeneca inked two projects that would bring the same type of care to respiratory disorders and heart disease.

The company announced it will be working with Abbott Laboratories on a diagnostic test that would work with an experimental asthma drug, as well as working with Canadian scientists on genes relating to heart disease.

In collaboration with the Montreal Heart Institute, they will search the genomes of up to 80,000 patients for genes associated with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, their complications and treatment outcomes.

The knowledge gained from genotyping the samples will be applied to the development of new medicines tailored to treat subsets of patients with particular genetic profiles. The information will also enable a personalized healthcare approach to the use of existing treatments, which means using specific medicines to treat the patient populations that are most likely to respond.

Their agreement with Abbott includes developing companion diagnostic tests to identify patients with severe asthma who are most likely to benefit from the investigational biological therapy, tralokinumab.

"The time is now right to extend the personalized healthcare approach and the benefits it brings to all of our therapy areas," Ruth March, who heads the initiative at the British drugmaker, told reporters, according to Reuters. "Up to now the science of personalised healthcare has been slower to reach those common disease areas such as cardiovascular and respiratory disease."

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