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Genetic Sequencing, Impact on Prescribing Topic at Mayo Individualized Medicine Conference

September 13, 2018 08:44 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- You've likely heard of companies like 23andMe that use genetic information found in DNA to tell you about your past. Now, doctors are using similar tests to determine the future of your health.

It's an effort to eliminate some of the trial and error in prescribing medications and prevent possibly harmful side effects from occurring.

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"Your genome, the DNA that your mom and dad gave you, can determine how you will respond to those drugs and there's a big variation," Dr. Richard Weinshilboum with Mayo Clinic said.

That's where pharmacogenetics comes in, sequencing DNA and using that information to determine what drugs and what doses might be most effective.

"We test chemotherapy medications and other medications a cancer patient may be on to predict which ones might have a better effect and which ones might have side effects," Tyler Koep, a medical affairs specialist at OneOme, the company that co-developed the test with Mayo, said.

Koep was one of the dozens presenting research on individualized medicine in Rochester this week. His team's work focused on 95 cancer patients being treated at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, all of whom had some kind of actionable supportive care medication show up on their test results. He said it's exciting to be able to benefit so many lives with this test.

"The majority of people have medications that they would test for that they potentially shouldn't be on," Koep said. "In this study, we were able to actually change medications that were a potential problem some for them."

It's already making a difference at Mayo Clinic as well, where more than 11,000 patients have had their DNA sequenced and put in their electronic file for doctors to see when prescribing medications.

"When the doctor first writes that first prescription for you, the computer screen will have an alert saying there is a genetic variation in the way people respond to this drug," Dr. Weinshilboum said. At that point, the computer will ask the doctor to give the patient the test.

After test results are inputted, "the alert comes up and says that patient, the one you're looking at, if you give him or her a standard dose of this drug, you could harm them or they wouldn't respond," he said.

While it's not commonplace just yet, Weinshilboum said it could someday make it easier to treat just about any condition.

"That information will all be there and we'll have a great deal more understanding of how to tailor drug therapy," he said.

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