One of the newest and most promising developments in genetic testing could also help counteract the opioid epidemic. Pharmacogenomics is the practice of gene testing to determine how a patient’s body will react to specific medications. Pharmacogenomics is now covered by most insurances.
Genetics Affect More Than Previously Thought
Every person has thousands of genes that dictate their characteristics, from the color of their eyes to their blood type. As scientific research continues to advance, it is becoming apparent that genetics affect far more than was previously thought. Pharmacogenomics examines a patient’s genes for variations that may show whether or not a medication could be an effective treatment. Aside from helping to determine the efficacy of a drug treatment, this can also help to identify potential allergies before they occur.
The Basics of Pharmacogenomics Testing
The core purpose of pharmacogenomics testing is to determine whether or not a medication is appropriate for a patient. A patient will have a blood or saliva sample taken, and various tests will be performed to determine:
- If a medication could be an effective treatment for the patient’s condition
- What the ideal medication dosage should be
- Whether or not an allergic reaction is likely to occur
Aside from the obvious benefits of the above, pharmacogenomics serves a variety of medical purposes. The study hopes to lead to drugs that are more customized to proteins, enzymes and RNA within each patient’s DNA. These high-powered medicines will do less damage and work more efficiently thanks to their customization.
The dosages for current medications will also become more accurate as height, weight and age will not be the only parameters. Instead, genetics will help customize the medication’s dosage, lower the chances of an overdose and help to reduce the likelihood of drug abuse.
Countless Patients Can Benefit
Depression is an incredibly common condition, and finding the right medication and dosage for patients is notoriously tricky. Pharmacogenomics could greatly assist with finding ideal psychiatric medications for struggling patients without the need for constant adjustments. With over 1 in 20 Americans suffering from depression, many people could stand to benefit.
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