Pharmacogenetic Testing

Pharmacogenetic TestingThe human body is as intricate and impressive as it is mysterious. While the general physiological make-up of every individual follows a set blueprint, each person is a unique combination of cells, genes, and tissue.

Needless to say, people react to external stimuli like medication and therapy differently. Some medications and therapeutic options prove to be effective for the majority. Nevertheless, the same drugs or treatment might not work to the same extent for some individuals.

Simply put, people react to medicine and treatment in varying ways. This is the reason why pharmacogenetics testing is an important recent health innovation.

What is Pharmacogenetic Testing?

Pharmacogenetics testing or drug-gene testing involves the assessment of a person’s genes in relation to their reaction with certain drugs. At the heart of the innovation is the concept of multitudes of genetic variables a person inherits from his other parents. The test aims to:

  • Determine the best possible treatment for a certain physical or mental illness based on a person’s genetic make-up
  • Discover appropriate dosage of the said drug or treatment
  • Discern possible drug side effects

Unfortunately, pharmacogenetic tests are not available for all medications and all illnesses. In fact, most over-the-counter drugs have yet to have a pharmacogenetic test develop for them.

``The clinical question ‘What is the matter?’ is being rephrased as ‘What matters to you? ‘We want our patients’ wellness to be our first priority. This starts with the values that we should promote. That is professional behavior” - Jan Hazelzet, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at Erasmus Medical.

Who Should Consider Pharmacogenetic Testing?

Pharmacogenetics testing is recommended mainly for people who have been recently diagnosed and are about to start taking treatment or medication for their illness. However, patients who have had negative or underwhelming experiences with a treatment program can also opt into the test.

Whilst the test output depends on the medical provider center, a pharmacogenetics assessment would guide medical professionals in dealing the right treatment, medication, and dosage for their patients.

What Can Be Expected From a Pharmacogenetics Test?

The procedures that are involved in pharmacogenetics test are highly dependent on the medical center a patient chooses to get an assessment from. Nevertheless, most tests go through the following steps:

  • DNA Extraction – Medical centers that offer pharmacogenetics tests usually require patients to submit a sample of their blood or saliva.  Blood or saliva is full of DNA, which can be used in order to conduct the drug-gene test.
  • Gene sequencing – Akin to decoding a line of computer code, Gene or genome sequencing involves understanding a how a person’s genes work together.  This step determines which medication or treatment should be implemented.
  • Analysis and Interpretation – Depending on the medical center, the results of the pharmacogenetics test should be available within a month of DNA submission.
``I'm a big believer in what's called personalized medicine, which refers to customizing your health care to your specific needs based on your physiology, genetics, value system and unique conditions`` - David Agus

What Are The Benefits of Pharmacogenetic Testing?

Taking any kind of medication has serious and sometimes irreversible risks. They are after all chemical and foreign substances that would be introduced to a patient’s body. As such, pharmacogenetics testing is considered an important step in receiving proper medical care and therapy.

  • Correct prescription and dosing – Pharmacogenetics testing provides a clear illustration of the medications a patient would benefit from.  The test determines which drug or treatment would be effective at certain dosages.
  • Reduced Side Effects – Knowing the ins and outs of a person’s genetic make-up in relation to their medication would reduce the risk of life-threatening adverse effects.
  • Reduced medication costs – Without having to go through the trial and error of switching prescriptions, pharmacogenetics testing allows a patient to save on medication and treatment costs.

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