Give Your Family the Gift of Precision Medicine

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Give Your Family the Gift of Precision Medicine

Precision medicine uses the code of your DNA to attain personalised healthcare for you and your family. Arm your medical team with the data they need to diagnose illness and prescribe medication with precision. 

Your body has thousands of genes that you inherited from your parents. Genes are stretches of DNA that serve as an instruction manual telling your body how to make the proteins and perform the other tasks that your body needs. Genes determine which characteristics you have, such as eye colour and blood type. Your genes also determine which illnesses you will inherit, what you are allergic to and how your body processes medications.

Increase your chance of curing serious illness or preventing illness altogether with early diagnosis. Even if an illness is terminal early diagnosis can slow down its progression, reduce symptoms and provide the patient with a better quality of life. Your DNA holds the key to early diagnosis since it determines which illnesses you will inherit. Arm your doctors with your genetic profile so they can diagnose you faster, more accurately and take proactive steps that will protect and extend your life.

If doctors know your genes, they can predict drug response and incorporate this information into the medical decisions they make

DR. Rochelle Long

expert in pharmacogenomics at National Institutes of Heath

Your genes carry instructions for creating the enzymes that control how quickly drugs are absorbed and released from your body. This is unique to each individual and it is the reason why the same drug could cure one individual and kill somebody else.

Let’s use Codeine, a common prescription painkiller as an example. Codeine is metabolised (converted) into morphine by an enzyme that in humans is encoded by the CYP2D6 gene. The gene has very different forms in each individual. For individuals who carry two inactive copies of this gene (“poor metabolizers”) pain relief may be inadequate because of reduced morphine levels. In contrast, individuals who carry more than two normal functioning copies of this gene (“ultra-rapid metabolizers”) are able to metabolize codeine to morphine more rapidly and more completely.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug label for codeine states that even at labeled dosage regimens, individuals who are ultra-rapid metabolizers may have life-threatening or fatal respiratory depression or experience signs of overdose. Nursing mothers may also produce breast milk containing higher than expected levels of morphine that can lead to their babies death from an overdose. The chances of an overdose are multiplied because the baby has a high probability of being an ultra-rapid metabolizer as well. 

The CYP2D6 gene metabolises a quarter of prescription drugs (including all tricyclic antidepressants, most SSRIs, antipsychotics, amphetamines, opioids, analgesics, antiemetics, beta-blockers, antianginal agents, pain killers, antihistamines and cough medicines). Knowing just one gene can have a huge impact on your health. Without knowing this one gene your doctor simply does not have the knowledge to prescribe the right medication, at the right dose.

It has been estimated that genetics can account for up to 95% of the variability in drug disposition and effects and as much as 40-60% of adverse drug reactions ( Crews KR, Hicks JK, Pui CH, Relling MV, Evans WE, 2012).

Adverse drug reactions are the fourth commonest cause of death in the US after heart disease (nearly 750000 deaths), cancer (530000), and stroke (150000) according to Journal of the American Medical Association. “There are an estimated 100,000 deaths and more than two million serious adverse reactions attributable to prescription drug use in the United States each year, at a cost to the healthcare industry that exceeds $136 billion annually,” . Without prior knowledge of an individual patient’s genetic profile physicians prescribe drugs in a trial-and-error manner which results in unnecessary cost and deaths.

Arm your doctors with the genetic code the need to power precision medicine. Give them code of your sequenced DNA so they can predict how you will process medications, find the right therapy, determine the right dose and reduce the risk of adverse drug effects.

US President Barack Obama called precision medicine “one of the greatest opportunities for new medical breakthroughs that we have ever seen,” saying that it promised to deliver “the right treatments at the right time, every time, to the right person.” Obama created the Precision Medicine Initiative, a $215 million plan to collect genetic information from a million American volunteers in order to further the development of personalised, genetics-based medical treatments.

The US Food and Drug Administration requires pharmaceutical companies to analyse and print the impact genetic code on the labels for almost 200 prescription drugs. These drugs include common medications like aspirin and painkillers, to antidepressants, to drugs such as blood thinners that can impact life or death. There are, however, no requirements for patients to give doctors the genetic information they need to prescribe drugs.

In most cases, drug and insurance companies are not required to perform DNA tests and to lower costs, they may place the responsibility on the patient. For pharma companies, it simply may not be in their financial interest since pharmacogenomic tests may rule out large percentages of individuals who buy their drugs. Insurance companies are more concerned with saving money than your health. Precision medicine is healthcare personalised for you and your family. It’s up to you to take responsibility for your own health, nobody else will. Sequence your DNA and provide doctors with the knowledge needed to protect your health and extend your life.

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