It is well known that people react differently to medications. The reason for this could be the patient’s physical characteristics, his or her genetic makeup, or the influence of other medication. The goal of Professor Mikko Niemi’s (University of Helsinki) research is to develop an algorithm that integrates all these factors and helps doctors find the appropriate drug and the correct dosage for a patient. This would make treatments more effective and reduce side effects.
As an example, Mikko Niemi’s research group is developing decision-making support systems related to pharmacogenetics – the study of the effect of genes on the efficacy and safety of drug ingredients. The aim is to devise an interpretation algorithm for doctors treating patients with cardiovascular disease, to help find the most effective and safe cholesterol medication for each patient. The algorithm uses data on the patient’s characteristics, illnesses, other medications and genome.
Access to massive amounts of reliable data is essential for Mikko Niemi and other researchers like him, integrating the data of life to develop more efficient treatment of diseases. The ELIXIR infrastructure helps to reach that goal by giving access to the data, in a standardised way, meeting data protection regulations without compromising openness.