Sanofi Pasteur Award - When medicine gets personal - Award winner describes how drug treatments are being tailored for individuals

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Montreal May 28, 2012 — We have an unprecedented volume and variety of drugs to treat different medical conditions, yet administering them remains a tricky business. Some agents come with dangerous side effects, while others simply do not work on some people. Sorting out the best drug and the best dose can be a challenge, one that may hold a life in the balance.

Fortunately, we have learned a great deal about how our bodies deal with drugs, and investigators are beginning to identify those genetic features that might make some individuals overly sensitive to a particular compound, while others are not sensitive at all. This insight offers the prospect of personalized medicine, which promises to make each and every treatment as effective as possible.

Writer Mark Witten offered a survey of the latest developments in this field, which is employing genetic tests to determine how doctors deal with breast cancer, how they prescribe drugs for heart disease or mental illness, and how blood transfusions are performed. His detailed and engaging account, “Drugs Made to Measure”, draws on the cases of patients who have been helped by this new approach. The article, which appeared in the April 2011 issue of Homemakers magazine, is being honoured with this year’s Sanofi Pasteur Medal for Excellence in Health Research Journalism.

“Personalized medicine is often discussed in abstract terms, which might lead people to expect too much or too little,” says CHR president, Patricia Guyda. “Witten has provided a significant public service by explaining it in clear, practical terms, so readers can understand what is actually a very exciting dimension of medical treatment.”

Canadians for Health Research is also acknowledging the outstanding work of Hannah Hoag, who wrote a compelling account of researchers who dissect brains in order to understand the physical foundations of mental disorders. She will receive an Honourable Mention for her article, “The painted brain: how our lives colour our minds”, which appeared in the Montreal Gazette on 16 January 2011.

CHR launched the Sanofi Pasteur Medal in 1995, and administers the selection process. Sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur Ltd., Canada's premier vaccine company, the inaugural medal recipient was Globe and Mail science reporter Stephen Strauss for his longstanding contribution to promoting public awareness of science. Other recent awardees include Michael Smith from University Affairs and Peggy Curran from the Montreal Gazette.

“As a company that is built on nearly a century of science, Sanofi Pasteur is pleased to be associated with this prestigious award that recognizes excellence in science journalism,” says Nancy Simpson, Director, Communications at Sanofi Pasteur Canada.

Witten and Hoag will receive plaques marking their achievements on 2 June 2012, during the Canadian Science Writers’ Association annual general meeting in Windsor, Ontario, where Witten will also receive a $2,500 bursary.

Canadians for Health Research (CHR) is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting the stability and quality of Canadian health research.  It fosters communication between health researchers, the government and the Canadian public, and publishes a quarterly magazine entitled Future Health.  For more information please visit the CHR website at http://www.chrcrm.org.

Sanofi Pasteur, a leading global pharmaceutical company, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions to improve the lives of everyone. It is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi-Aventis Group, provided more than a 1.6 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 bacterial and viral diseases. The company's heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than $1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: www.sanofipasteur.com

For more information, please contact:

Patricia Guyda                        Nancy Simpson
President                                Director, Communications                   
CHR/CRM                                Sanofi Pasteur Limited               
Montreal, QC                          Toronto, Ontario                   
514-398-7478                        416-667-2955
pguyda@chrcrm.org               nancy.simpson@sanofipasteur.com

Mon, 05/28/2012