You are Unique.
Shouldn’t your medications be?
The Era of Personalized Medicine
Imagine living in an era in which your healthcare provider could use a simple test to identify exactly which prescription medications your body responds to best, to know which are likely to prove ineffective or even unsafe, and even to gauge appropriate doses. Imagine, too, that your provider could use this same test to predict when the combination of certain medications might prove harmful – so-called drug-drug interactions.
We now live in such an era, thanks to the ever-growing field of pharmacogenomics and to pharmacogenetic (PGx) testing.
- Comprehensive Genetic Test Panel
- Pain Management
- Pain + Psychiatry
- Orthopedic Surgery
- Thrombophilia Risk
*Note: reports on individual genes may also be ordered. However, as many drugs are metabolized by more than one gene in the testing list, doing so may limit the clinical utility of the final report.
What is pharmacogenetic (PGx) testing?
A combination of pharmacology and genomics, pharmacogenomics is an area of study that explores the delicate interplay between a person’s genes and the prescription drugs they take. The insights gained from pharmacogenomic research are being applied every day through pharmacogenetics testing, in an increasingly successful effort to transform the way physicians prescribe drugs to their patients.
Why do physicians use PGx testing?
Healthcare providers are increasingly combining traditional clinical indicators (a patient’s age, body weight, history, and so on) with genetic information, as doing so allows them to make more informed decisions about the prescriptions they write. These physicians often see better responses and outcomes, fewer adverse reactions, and higher rates of adherence from their patients.
What, specifically, does PGx testing look at?
PGx testing largely focuses on a subset of genes that assist in the metabolic processing of “xenobiotics,” chemical substances such as drugs or supplements not normally found in the body. Sometimes, the products of these genes, known as drug metabolizing enzymes (DMEs), are responsible for converting an inactive “prodrug” (such as codeine) into its active metabolite (morphine). In other cases, the function of these enzymes is to help remove active drugs from our system after they’ve done their job.
Why is knowing this information important?
When one or more of these genes is defective, the enzymes they produce are typically less active than required. In some cases, in fact, they possess no activity at all. As a result, individuals with certain inborn mutations are incapable of converting certain inactive prodrugs into their active components; as a result, affected prodrugs can be expected to function poorly in these individuals. Conversely, certain mutations may prohibit an individual from clearing active drugs, potentially leading to toxic build-up of these compounds over time.
Other genes/proteins of interest have nothing to do with metabolism. For example, certain molecules called “transporters”, responsible for bringing drug molecules into target cells, can be defective due to genetic variants. And even the molecules that reside on cell surfaces – receptors – can have defects that compromise their ability to bind and respond to therapeutic compounds. Such genes also have a significant impact on drug administration.
In short, understanding how each patient metabolizes, transports, and binds specific prescription drugs allows physicians to prescribe those compounds that are most likely to prove efficacious, to avoid those that will not, and even to adjust doses to safe yet therapeutic levels in many instances. Such a personalized approach to medicine has the power to produce better results, particularly for individuals whose genetic profile puts them at risk of experiencing either treatment failure or an adverse reaction from a given drug.
What about the test itself?
Unlike many laboratory procedures, pharmacogenetic testing requires no blood from patients. Instead, DNA-containing cells are collected using a painless cheek swab. Once sent to QuantiGen Laboratory in Fishers, IN, this DNA is tested for specific DNA variants known to have an impact on drug metabolism.
QuantiGen analysts then use this information to prepare a highly comprehensive, easy-to-understand report for both patient and physician that identifies expected responses to dozens of commonly prescribed medications. Tests can be comprehensive in nature, or be tailored to a specific medical discipline. (Please see testing options, below.)
Who benefits the most?
Armed with information about their patient’s genetic makeup, physicians can avoid much of the frustration associated with trial-and-error prescribing, reduce adverse drug reactions, sand ultimately achieve therapeutic results in a more timely manner. As a result, patients get well quicker, experiencing fewer negative effects from their medications, and save money.
- Factor II / Factor V Leiden
*Note: multiple mutations may be tested for a single gene. Also, with the exception of the Comprehensive Panel, only relevant genes are reported for a given panel choice.