A genetic test that predicts how patients with mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia will respond to drugs is to be offered to British doctors, in a step towards a new era of personalised medicine.
The £1,000 procedure, which is already used in several US hospitals, uses individuals’ DNA to assess whether 26 psychiatric drugs — including Prozac and Seroxat — are likely to work or cause side-effects.
It promises to bring significant improvements to the care of patients with psychiatric conditions, at least a third of whom do not currently benefit from the first drug they are prescribed because they cannot tolerate it or it has no effect.
The development highlights the growing potential of genetics to tailor treatment according to patients’ DNA profiles. This practice, known as pharmacogenetics or pharmacogenomics, is expected to transform many branches of medicine over the next decade, helping doctors to select the therapy that works best for a particular patient.
The psychiatric DNA test, known as GeneSightRx, is offered by the US company AssureRx, which plans to introduce it in Europe by the end of the year.
Reported by Mark Henderson, Science Editor
Source: Francis Collins, The Language of Life; Times database
Submitted by Darrell H