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New software designed to reduce the number of adverse drug reactions is being developed thanks to a joint investment of £2 million provided by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Legal & General.

Nearly half of older people in the UK take 5 or more medicines. This is associated with falls and cognitive impairment and in the most extreme cases, death, often because not everyone reacts to drugs, particularly multiple drugs, in the same way.

Funded under UKRI’s Healthy Ageing Challenge the software, being developed by digital health company Congenica, will harness the power of pharmacogenetics – how an individual’s genes influence their response to drugs – to improve the safety and effectiveness of drug treatment, particularly for people taking multiple medicines.

HAPPY (Healthy Ageing Pharmacogenetics and Polypharmacy) will assess the health benefits of pharmacogenetic analysis in general practice for patients over 50 years of age taking multiple medicines. It will then use the results to create clinical decision software that uses that pharmacogenetics data. The software will alert doctors to the risks of prescribing specific combinations of medicines for individuals, so they can look at alternative medications or doses, to reduce that risk.

As part of the Healthy Ageing Challenge, UKRI provides funding alongside private investment in business-led research and development. Using this co-investment, businesses can produce and market innovations for healthy ageing that can be adopted at scale.

A total of £29 million in government grants, together with aligned co-investment from private investors, will be available until 2024 for projects of up to £3 million in eligible costs.

George MacGinnis, Healthy Ageing Challenge Director at UKRI, said:Improving our understanding of how medicines interact will make a huge difference to the lives of older people, who are much more likely to be taking five or more medications at any one time. Congenica’s innovation aims to help to reduce avoidable adverse drug reactions which are directly responsible for over 700 deaths per year in the UK, with a world-wide potential to save many times that amount.

Dr Sam Roberts, MD of Health and Care for Legal & General Retail Retirement, said:Our investment in Congenica is a perfect example of our work to help people live longer, happier and healthier lives. This software could greatly improve outcomes for the large number of patients who take multiple medicines.

Dr David Atkins, Chief Executive Officer, Congenica, said:The promise of pharmacogenomics has been on the horizon for a number of years and it is incredibly exciting to be working with UK Research and Innovation and Legal and General to develop practical systems that can be used to deliver routine pharmacogenomic analysis. For Congenica, this is an important realisation of our vision to provide genomics to maintain health and wellness, as well as to characterise and manage disease.”


Notes to Editors

One in 12 people in the UK are over 75. By 2040, this will rise to one in seven. A third of children born now are expected to live to 100. On average, people aged 65 will live just half of the rest of their life without disability. We want everyone to remain active, productive, independent and socially connected across generations for as long as possible and to narrow the gap between the experiences of the richest and poorest. That’s why we’re investing up to £98 million in healthy ageing through the UKRI Healthy Ageing Challenge.