Family practice offers genetic tests to predict effective psychiatric meds

For the first time in Canada, patients attending a family practice clinic will be offered genetic testing to see whether or how they will respond to psychiatric medication treatment, in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

Thornhill Medical Centre, a clinic of , is making the promise of personalized medicine a reality.

"These pharmacogenetic tests will enable physicians to use a patient's to help predict which medications are safe to prescribe, and which ones may be ineffective or cause side effects," said Dr. James Kennedy, head of CAMH's Department.

The tests, which will prevent trial-and-error prescribing and reduce associated health-care costs, will be analyzed in the Tanenbaum Centre for Pharmacogenetics at CAMH's Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute.

"My patients were ready for these tests yesterday – they may have tried three or four different antidepressants that didn't work or had side effects, before finding something that helped them," Dr. Nick Voudouris, a family physician with the Thornhill Medical Centre. "The ability to be able to know which medications patients will respond to, based on their , is invaluable."

Using a saliva sample, variations on five genes are analyzed to predict a patient's response to 19 common antidepressant and antipsychotic medications. Medications that will work get a green light to prescribe as directed. A yellow caution. For each medication in this category, the tests will show whether dosing levels need to be lowered or increased, or that the drug's effects may not be optimal for this patient. Medications in the red light category should be used with caution and more frequent monitoring, due to side effects or lack of response.

This initiative is part of the larger IMPACT study (: Pharmacogenetic Assessment & Clinical Treatment). Funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, IMPACT researchers aim to look at the impact of genetic testing over seven years in 20,000 patients. They are also seeking to identify new genetic markers.

"We expect these tests to improve patient satisfaction and safety, and have a substantial impact on reducing health-care costs, which we will be examining over the course of the IMPACT study," said Dr. Kennedy. "With the genetic information doctors will be better equipped to prevent complications from medications before they occur."

Thornhill Medical Centre was chosen because its team includes seven general practitioners and numerous registered nurses caring for a diverse array of who can be monitored on a fully implemented electronic medical record. This system helps track important research information as well. All clinic physicians agree that genetic information is important to study in terms of medication response and , and has a great benefit for patient care, Dr. Voudouris noted.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Genetic-screening trial could reduce drug side-effects

Jun 24, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Patients with a range of common inflammatory diseases that also have genetic variations leading to low levels of a particular enzyme in their bodies are at greater risk of suffering side-effects from the ...

Recommended for you

75 years after his death, Vienna struggles with Freud

4 hours ago

Even before Sigmund Freud fled Hitler on the Orient Express from Vienna in June 1938, the father of psychoanalysis and his ideas about sex, dreams and cocaine divided opinion in the Austrian capital.

Classroom intervention helps shy kids learn

20 hours ago

A program that helps teachers modify their interactions with students based on an individual's temperament helps shy children to become more engaged in their class work, and in turn, improves their math and critical thinking ...

New blood test may help diagnose depression

22 hours ago

The World Health Organisation has determined that depressive disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide. The recurrent and chronic forms of depression account for the bulk of the problem.

User comments