Older people are the largest consumers of healthcare, and the recipients of the majority of prescribed medication. They also seem to be at greater risk of developing an unwanted reaction to a medication (Adverse Drug Reactions or ADRs). We do not yet know why older people appear to be at greater risk of developing an unwanted reaction to a medicine. One possible reason could be that their body is less able to remove the medicine, or degrade it, and this could mean that the medicine builds up in the body causing problems.
A substance in the human body called NFE2L2 plays an important role in breaking down medicines and stopping them from accumulating in the body. However, in laboratory studies it has been shown that there is less NFE2L2 in the cells of older organisms compared to younger ones. If this is the case in humans then it may mean that older individuals are less capable of removing medicines from their body. In addition, some people have a slightly different, less effective form of NFE2L2 in their body. Together with an age-related reduction in NFE2L2, older individuals with this different form of NFE2L2 could be at increased risk of suffering an unwanted reaction to a medicine.
Funding for this research project was secured in 2015 and is currently going through Research Ethics Approval.
The aim of this study is to see if older people with the less effective form of NFE2L2 (a polymorphism in the promoter region of the NFE2L2 gene) are at increased risk of developing an unwanted reaction to a medicine.
This research project is ongoing; output, findings and impact will be updated in due course.
Dr Greg Scutt
Professor Chakravarthi Rajkumar
Dr Khalid Ali
Dr Andy Overall