One of the most exciting developments in genomics this past decade has been the growing understanding of drug-gene interactions. Understanding how the genome interacts with pharmaceutical therapies is essential in the clinical application of genomics. Researchers have made millions of such connections, but the biggest challenge for physicians is parsing through this high-volume of information in order to find a viable, effective treatment plan for each patient. Now that patients are taking more control of their healthcare, there is a growing knowledge gap.
The key to understanding drug-gene interactions is to realize that many drugs affect individuals differently. This occurs because our genes code for enzymes, the molecules in our bodies that metabolize food, vitamins, and drugs. When there is a variation in your DNA that causes an enzyme to be coded slightly differently, that enzyme won’t be able to break down the medication it’s responsible for metabolizing. This is an example of just one type of drug-gene interaction, but the basics are the same: DNA variation changes the effectiveness of an enzyme that deals with medication. Some variations increase the chance of negative side-effects, while others may actually boost the positive effects of the drug. Accessing and understanding this information allows a doctor to prescribe the medications that will work well with their patient’s unique biology.
Exploring drug-gene interactions in cancer patients is particularly promising. One of the biggest challenges of fighting cancer is the fact that every case of cancer is unique. Cancer cells are simply mutated cells within the body that no longer perform normal functions, and amass in tumors, causing major health problems. Understanding the patient’s DNA offers clues into how the cancer developed, is developing, and reveals which drugs the cancer is likely to be sensitive to.
Research continues to reveal more drug-gene interactions, and there are already well-populated databases related to this. Getting this valuable information into the hands of physicians, in an efficient way is a problem in itself. New Amsterdam Genomics has addressed this challenge by developing a drug-gene interaction analysis platform as part of our robust genomic solution. Once a patient is sequenced, a physician will instantly see which of that patient’s current medications are a good fit, and which are actually harmful. The database at the backend of platform is completely searchable, allowing the physician to assemble a treatment plan that works with their patient. No other tool like this is available directly to physicians of any discipline. Getting essential information like this into the hands of doctors is the foundation of NAG, and we’re committed to continue to provide innovative access to all that genomics has to offer.