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Surprising Science

New Genetic Test Predicts How You’ll Respond to Prescription Drugs

A genetic test to be marketed directly to consumers will test an individual’s genetic make up to determine how he or she will react to prescription drugs.

What’s the Latest Development?

A genetic test to be marketed directly to consumers will test their genetic make up to determine how they will react to prescription drugs, and whether a nonstandard dose should be taken “because their body will break it down faster or slower than most people.” The test, under development at the New Jersey-based startup Genome Liberty, would require patients to send a saliva sample to the company’s laboratory. Genetic analysts would then scan the individual’s genome for “DNA variations in 11 liver enzyme genes, which are a subset of the dozens of genes encoding enzymes for drug metabolism.”

What’s the Big Idea?

Expected to cost $99, the test aims to tell patients which drugs they should take in which doses, and which drugs they should avoid according to markers in their DNA. Cofounder Jeffrey Rosenfeld, a genome scientist at Rutgers University, said: “The idea is to give you a card to keep in your wallet, or an iPhone app, which says which medications you shouldn’t take.” An important test for the company, as well as new medical technologies aimed directly at patients, is whether doctors will accept the legitimacy of the tests’ results. Besides not automatically trusting direct-to-consumer tests, doctors may not have guidelines for how to interpret their results. 

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Read it at MIT Technology Review


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