Your genes dictate how you react to a certain medication

A pharmacogenetic test determines what impact your DNA has on drug effectiveness and side effects.

How do genes affect medication?

Your DNA affects how your body reacts to a drug. The pharmaceutical substances of drugs are broken down, i.e., metabolised, in the body by various enzymes. The production of these enzymes depends on your genes. Because of genetic traits, one person may produce more of a certain enzyme than another person. This is normal genetic variation between individuals, which affects how we respond to drugs as individuals. The higher the production of a certain enzyme is, the faster the medicine is metabolised and excreted from the body. A drug can only give the intended therapeutic effect if a sufficient level of the pharmaceutical substance is reached in the blood stream. If your body metabolises a medicine faster than expected, a sufficient level cannot be reached, and the drug does not work properly. On the other hand, if the metabolism is slower than expected, because your body produces a lower amount of the enzyme, the pharmaceutical substance accumulates in your body and may cause unpleasant side effects or even dangerous adverse drug reactions.

Pharmacogenetics combines pharmacology and genetics

Pharmacogenetics is the science that combines genetics and pharmacology. Your genes dictate how you react to a certain medication. This is individual for all of us, and this science can be used to personalize medication for patients as individuals.

Precision medication is possible in the treatment of depression, cardiovascular diseases, pain relief etc. In pharmacogenetic testing the patient’s genetic variants that affect medication are determined based on DNA analysis of a blood sample or alternatively a buccal swab or saliva sample. The pharmacogenetic information can help your doctor choose the best medication for you as an individual. In the past genetic testing was expensive and used only in diagnosing and treating patients with rare or severe illnesses, but with the advances in genetic technologies, genetic testing is now available for all patients and doctors.

Abomics – Supporting medication decisions

Today, pharmacogenetics is an everyday tool for every medical doctor. It enables effective and safe medication for each patient individually. When your gene variants are known, your doctor can use a report to support decision-making and choosing the right medicine and dosage for you. A lower or higher dose than typical may be optimal for you. It is also possible that the most commonly used drug may not be effective or safe for you and your doctor can choose another drug that is better for you. With pharmacogenetics, your doctor may avoid drugs and dosages that are not effective in your body or that cause an increased risk of side effects for you. This speeds up the process of optimising your medication and finding the right drug and dose for you and may help you get well and healthy sooner.