According to a significant report, we have the technology to usher in a new era in medicine by accurately matching medications to people’s genetic codes.
Because of small changes in how our bodies function, some medications are rendered useless or even lethal.
A genetic test, according to the British Pharmacological Society and the Royal College of Physicians, can predict how effectively medications will work in your body.
Next year, the tests may be available on the NHS.
Your genetic code, also known as DNA, is a set of instructions for how your body works. Pharmacogenomics is the science of matching medications to your DNA.
Jane Burns, of Liverpool, who lost two-thirds of her skin after a poor reaction to new epilepsy treatment, could have benefited from it.
When she was 19, she started on carbamazepine. She got a rash two weeks later, and her parents took her to A & E when she acquired a high temperature and began hallucinating.
Jane’s storey may seem unusual, but according to Prof. Mark Caulfield, president-elect of the British
Codeine provides no pain relief to more than five million people in the United Kingdom.
One in every 500 people has a genetic code that puts them at risk of losing their hearing if they take the antibiotic gentamicin.
Some drugs are already based on pharmacogenomics. In the past, 5-7 per cent of people who took the HIV medicine abacavir had a terrible reaction, and some died. The risk is now zero because people’s DNA is tested before the medicine is prescribed.
Scientists studied the top 100 most commonly prescribed medications in the United Kingdom. According to their report, we already have the technology to roll out genetic testing to guide the use of 40 of them.
The genetic study would cost around £100 and could be performed on a blood or saliva sample.
When one of the 40 medications is prescribed, the vision is to complete the test. In the long run, the goal is to test well ahead of time, perhaps at birth if infant genetic testing is approved, or as part of a normal check-up in your 50s.