Genetic Testing for Drug Sensitivities
New genetic research has shown that people metabolize drugs differently. Some people may be more susceptible to adverse drug reactions as others may have no clinical benefit from the drug. In the past, medical professionals would prescribe medications on a trial and error basis hoping to find the right medication to control the patient’s depression or blood pressure. Now there are genetic tests to determine the medications that may best work for the patient based on their metabolic pathways.
How do genes affect the way drugs work?
Genes provide your body with instructions for making enzymes. Enzymes are needed for your body to break down drugs so your body can get benefit from the medicine. Differences in your enzymes can affect how your body can metabolize (break down) a drug and how long the drug stays your body. Based on what type of genes you carry, you may be:
- A poor drug metabolizer
(If you are a “poor metabolizer”, you do not break down drugs well. This may result in too much drug in the body which may lead to a dangerous side effect or even death. In some cases, your body may not be able to break down certain drugs to their working form and therefore the drugs will not work properly.)
- An extensive or “normal” drug metabolizer
- You metabolize drugs at the normal rate.
- An ultra-rapid drug metabolizer
(If you are an “ultra-rapid” metabolizer, this means you break down drugs too fast, causing them to be of no use in the body. If medications do not work properly, conditions such as high blood pressure, blood disorders, and cancer will be left untreated and may even lead to death.)
How can genetic tests help me?
- Adjust the dose of a medication so that it is the “right dose” for you.
- Prescribe medications that will work properly in your body and help you to get full benefit of the drug.
- Avoid medications that may be more likely to cause dangerous side effects in you.
- Save you money by getting the most accurate treatment right from the start.