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A new era of medicine

April 4, 2022

Scientists are hailing a genetic test as a ‘new era in medicine.’

The British Pharmacological Society and the Royal College of Physicians say the test will predict how well drugs work in our bodies, allowing medical experts to precisely match specific medicines to people’s genetic codes.

A new era of medicine. Scientists are hailing a genetic test breakthrough as it allows medics to match specific medicines to individual patients' genetic codes.

The tests are expected to be available on the NHS as soon as next year and are expected to herald an exciting new phase for pharmacogenomics, giving it the ability to ensure that patients get the medicines best suited to them and their needs.

The efficacy of these DNA-focused treatments is highlighted by the fact that over five million people in the UK receive no pain relief from codeine as their genetic code does not contain the instructions for making the enzyme that breaks codeine down into morphine, rendering the drug useless.

Other drugs can have more serious impacts, such as the antibiotic gentamicin, which has been found to cause deafness in one in 500 people as a result of their genetic code.

While this test breaks exciting new ground, pharmacogenomics is already being used for some medicines such as the HIV treatment abacavir, which has proven deadly for some patients.

By carrying out DNA testing, scientists believe they will be able to reduce such risks to zero.

As part of this study, scientists looked at the 100 most prescribed drugs in the UK and already have the technology in place to commence genetic testing on 40 of them.

These tests are carried out using a sample of blood or saliva, and it is initially planned to perform them before the drugs are prescribed.

However, the long-term ambition is to carry out the tests at birth or as part of routine check-ups for the over-50s.

Related: Regulatory Oversight in Gene Therapy: How Far Have We Come?

 

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