May 3, 2024

Sequence2Script flips the script on how medication is prescribed

New software tool could mean big things for child health
Chad Bousman
Chad Bousman Courtesy Chad Bousman

Starting a new medication can be nerve-racking. You might be unsure of how your body will react and whether the medication will help your ailment. 

This can be especially true for children who may have very little medical history. A new software tool, Sequence2Script, uses pharmacogenomic (genetic) information to help doctors choose the best prescription for individual patients, based on their genes. 

“If we look at (your) genes in those particular enzymes that break down medication, we can predict if you’re going to be a slower metabolizer or a normal metabolizer,” says Dr. Chad Bousman, PhD, founder and CEO of Sequence2Script and associate professor with the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) at the University of Calgary. 

“Maybe you’re a fast metabolizer and knowing that information will help us decide if a drug wouldn’t be a good match for you right now, or maybe we need to cut this drug in half because you metabolize a bit slower, instead of giving everyone the same dose and hoping for the best.”

Sequence2Script is supported by investment from UCalgary’s UCeed Child Health and Wellness Fund (supported by the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation) and the UCeed Health Fund. UCeed, a group of early-stage investment funds, educates, mentors and supports startup companies during the critical transitional stage between innovation demonstration and commercialization. This investment allowed the company to make its first hire, an important milestone. The company also used UCeed investment to leverage provincial funding from additional sources such as Alberta Innovates.

Bousman says he is excited about the potential to improve prescribing for children and youth and is currently working with CSM’s pharmacogenomics program in child mental health to speed up the process of prescribing with genetics. Previously, researchers would receive genetic results and then have to match them with the current evidence and write a report, but now the software program can match and write the report in minutes.

“When prescribing medications to children, there's always a bit more concern than if you're prescribing to adults and so this is where pharmacogenetics is even, I think, more important,” says Bousman, who is a member of Alberta Children’s Hospital Research InstituteOwerko CentreHotchkiss Brain Institute, and the Mathison Centre

“Families and the child themselves tend to be a bit anxious about certain medications. So, having all the information that you can get to help make sure that medication is a good match for that child is important.” 

Bousman says he has seen many people suffer for many years as the result of medications not working, or poor side-effects. But, he says, pharmacogenomics can help health-care professionals find the correct medication for the patient, or explain to them why certain medications have not been working. 

“For me, the passion comes from the impact that this can make in people's lives and I want to make sure that it's available to more people,” says Bousman.

All Kids Thriving: A Vision for Child Health and Wellness

At UCalgary, we’re taking the lead in transforming child health. Join us May 8 for our second event in the Creating Tomorrow series, where we will explore the relationships, partnerships and people involved in improving child health and wellness in Canada. Register now

The largest university-based venture fund of its kind in Canada, UCeed is backed by philanthropy and invests in early-stage startup companies at UCalgary.  

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