Discusses Pharmacogenetic Testing for Personalized Medical Treatment

November 20 04:50 2021 Discusses Pharmacogenetic Testing for Personalized Medical Treatment

The term “personalized medicine” is being thrown around quite a bit these days. This approach is being used to treat many serious health conditions. With personalized medicine, treatment is tailored to the individual. 

Personalized Medicine is Not New

Personalized medicine or precision medicine uses a field of study known as pharmacogenomics. Even though the word may sound new, the process behind pharmacogenomics has been in use for thousands of years. The area of study dates back to the ancient Greeks, and here are a few helpful hints to understand its history.

Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher and mathematician, did not know about the human genome. Still, he did note that some people could consume fava beans as a regular staple in their diet. But, some people’s exposure to the beans or even just to the bean pollen itself led to fever, jaundice, and even death. It would not be until roughly 3,000 years later that reasons for these extreme reactions would come to light.

The people who were having such extreme reactions to the fava beans suffered from a hereditary disease that would later be called favism. Favism occurs when an individual’s blood lacks an enzyme necessary for the breakdown of peptide glutathione. Since this peptide is found in the beans when an infected individual is exposed, their bodies suffer a severe reaction. This is believed to be one of the first instances of research of a genetic disease.

Modern Applications

Today, according to, advances in modern medicine and the human genetic code have led to the diagnosis and treatment of hundreds of conditions. Pharmacogenetic testing is routinely used to determine the most effective medication for a condition or to determine an appropriate dosage. 

Because the genetic code possesses so much information about how the body processes medications, pharmacogenetic testing provides invaluable information for healthcare providers when devising a treatment plan for patients. The test can let the prescriber know which drugs would work best and which medications should be avoided, allowing for a more accurate prediction of patient response.

Benefits and Limitations of the Test

Pharmacogenetic testing offers many benefits, but the test does have a few limitations. Not all drugs that a person may be taking have been gene-drug tested. This fact is further complicated because outcomes can be affected by other medications the patient is taking. Patient consumption of alcohol or tobacco or even level of daily exercise can cause an unknown response.

The test itself is usually performed with just a blood or saliva sample and usually requires no preparation on the patient’s part. Once the sample arrives in the lab, it is studied for changes to certain enzymes that help the body metabolize and process medications. All of this happens at labs like ClarityX, with a test that covers more than 450 of the most common FDA-approved drugs.

Health insurance coverage for this type of testing can vary from provider to provider, so it’s best to check with them directly. The insurance company can also provide information on total out-of-pocket costs. Checking with a healthcare provider can provide more information on how this testing can assist in one’s treatment plan.

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