In a joint venture, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) are turning the Olympic drug testing lab into a national phenome center to help design better medical treatments.
"The state-of-the-art antidoping laboratory, the size of seven tennis courts, was originally a partnership between drug control scientists at King's College London and the British pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline. It was going to be closed at the end of the Olympics, says Jonathan Weber, research director for medicine at Imperial College London, who helped coordinate the proposal. The switchover to the MRC-NIHR Phenome Centre, as it will be known, is slated for early October, and the center will open for business in January."
The lab will research the biological reasons certain individuals are more susceptible to particular diseases and why people respond to drugs differently.
To figure this out, scientists will research phenomes.
A phenome is a person's entire chemical makeup and it is constantly changing as a result of the interaction between genes and external factors including lifestyle and environment.
"This will take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities that lie in combining genetic data with the results of medical tests on tissues and blood," British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement. "It will allow us to understand the characteristics of disease and how these link into genes and our environment."
About 60 percent of the chromatography and mass spectrometry testing equipment currently used in the lab to test the urine and blood of athletes will be reused in the new research center. And MRC and NIHR will each invest roughly $7 million over five years to fund the new center.
John Savill, chief executive of the MRC tells Reuters: "Rather than losing this investment once the Games are over, the collaboration… will provide a unique resource that will ultimately result in benefits for patients."
Photo via flickr/Jamesongravity