This is an activity you can do from home with just some paper/pens and optional stickers
We would love to see your creations – tag us on Twitter @CoMorMent
For full instructions including a downloadable instruction sheet (PDF or word) see our website: https://www.comorment.uio.no/press-and-outreach/science-festival-activities/stratified-medicine.html
1. Make a string of paper chain people.
2. Add a pattern of stickers or pen marks to each person to represent their DNA. Remember to make each one unique.
- Sometimes, a change in just one gene can lead to a health condition (e.g. cystic fibrosis). But more commonly, especially for mental ill-health, numerous genes are involved, and the final outcome will be influenced by many different things – including lifestyle and stressful life events.
- In the future, doctors may use DNA tests to help them decide which medicine to prescribe, for example, if your person has mostly ‘blue’ DNA, they will respond best to the ‘blue’ medicine. If they have mostly ‘red’ DNA , then the ‘red’ medicine would be best.
3. Turn over your paper chain people and decorate them.
- What colour will their eyes and hair be?
- As well as DNA, researchers also look at lifestyle factors – what people eat, what sports or activities they do etc.
- Maybe your people could be carrying some food or sports/art equipment?
CoMorMent researchers work with ‘Big Data’ which means they combine together DNA, lifestyle and other clues from 1.8 million people. Some of these people have mental ill-health, some have cardiovascular disease; some have both, some have neither.
By looking at the patterns, they hope to develop a tool or test that can help predict whether or not a person with mental illness is likely to develop cardiovascular disease (i.e. who is at high risk?)
In the future, doctors could use this test to help them decide which medications or interventions to give to a person with mental ill-health. If the test suggests they are at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease, perhaps a different medication will be chosen, or regular testing will be recommended. This is stratified medicine.
Example: Stratified Medicine for antidepressant prescribing
At the moment, doctors tend to prescribe the most common types of anti-depressant first. If that doesn’t work or the patient experiences too many side effects, the doctor will try another option. This process may of trial and error could be repeated for months or even years before the most appropriate medication is found.
In the future, we may be able to give people a DNA test and use the results to help us prescribe that person the most appropriate medicine (for them), the first time around