Local research on response to medicine cited in reputable scientific journal

Research by a local scientist studying the influence of genetics in patients’ responses to medicine has been cited by a reputable journal

Francesca Wirth
Francesca Wirth

Research carried out by Francesca Wirth, a lecturer at the Department of Pharmacy within the University of Malta, was recently cited in a scientific report in a reputable journal on Nature.com.

As part of her doctoral research, Wirth carried out research on pharmacogenetic testing in collaboration with the Department of Cardiology and the Department of Pathology at Mater Dei Hospital.

Pharmacogenetics involves variations in drug response due to genetic makeup.

Patients with a history of angina who undergo coronary stenting are prescribed clopidogrel, a drug which decreases the clustering of blood platelets, to reduce risks of complications related to thrombosis following medical procedures.

In her research, Wirth assessed the various responses patients had to clopidogrel depending on their genetic makeup, as well as the implications of using the drug. She did this through two laboratory-based testing methods and an innovative rapid, point-of-care testing approach to individualise antiplatelet therapy.

According to the University of Malta, point-of-care pharmacogenetic testing enables accurate, reliable and user-friendly pharmacogenetic testing at the patient’s bedside. It also provides rapid results, enabling doctors to personalise therapy as they create the initial treatment plan in the period following coronary stenting.

Findings from the research were published in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy.

The research was undertaken under the supervision of pharmacy department head Lilian M. Azzopardi, and in collaboration with consultant cardiologist Albert Fenech, Mater Dei Hospital cardiology department chair Robert Xuereb and Mater Dei Hospital pathology department chair Christopher Barbara.

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