A 'paper chain people' activity to stimulate conversation around stratified medicine
This activity was designed for a family science festival audience.
Children create a chain of 3 people.
In the UK, 1 in 3 people will experience symptoms of anxiety or depression in their lifetime.
They then colour and decorate their people as they wish.
We use this opportunity to talk to the adults / engage them in another activity.
When the decorating is complete, we ask the child to turn their chain over and add a pattern of stickers to the back of each person.
We explain that these stickers represent the 'pattern' of DNA inside each person (explaining DNA as a 'recipe' or 'set of instructions').
We tell them that in the future, doctors may use DNA tests, to help them decide which medicines to prescribe.
- For the 'person' with mostly blue stickers, blue medicine would be best.
- For the 'person' with a majority of yellow stickers, yellow medicine would be best.
- The person on the right has a mixed pattern, so the genetic test may not be informative.
If age-appropriate, we provide a simplified explanation of depression and anti-depressants.
For older children/adults, we use these flow charts to help us explain current and potential future prescribing processes.
At the moment, doctors will generally prescribe antidepressant A first. If that doesn't work or has too many side effects, they will try B and then C. This process could take months or even years.
In the future, we may be able to give people a DNA test and prescribe them the most appropriate medicine for them, first time around.