Pharmacogenomic Testing; Genetically-Informed Psychopharmacology

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Some individuals diagnosed with mental health issues may need questions answered about their genetic makeup. Answers that pharmacogenomic testing provides allow people living with various mental health issues to determine a number of things. These include whether or not their mental health conditions have been passed down genetically and the risk of them passing these disorders on to future generations.

Pharmacogenomics

Synchrony offers Genomic Testing, a cutting-edge approach that gives clinicians tools and guidance to better understand each individual’s unique biological patterns of interacting with medications, psychiatric risks, and some nutraceuticals (also known as supplements). This provides the patient and their prescriber with a personal profile of genetic information relevant to neuropsychiatric treatment.

The test used by Synchrony (Genomind®) looks at 24 genes used to inform treatment for many psychiatric conditions. The report is used to help Synchrony’s psychiatric staff make better-informed treatment decisions, and to help significantly reduce the often unpleasant, even painful, process of trial and error that was the standard of practice in the past.

What is Pharmacogenomics?

Pharmacogenomics is the effect of an individual’s genetics on their reactions, both positive and negative, to drugs. Pharmacogenomics accounts for both pharmacology (the study of drugs in general) and genetics (the study of how our DNA influences the function of our bodies and brains).

Pharmacogenomics and Health

Because each person reacts differently to drugs, a frequent source of frustration is when an individual doesn’t feel relief with the first medication they take for symptoms of a mental illness. Up to half of patients do not respond as expected based on research that was conducted on a random sample of others with similar symptoms, partly because such research usually does not account for the genetic variability among individuals. It is in part because of these genetic differences that some also experience adverse reactions to the first psychiatric medication that is prescribed.

Using pharmacogenomics, the Synchrony prescriber can make a more informed choice of which medications may be more or less likely to be effective, or to be tolerable, and at what dose. This creates a path that usually means fewer medication trials before the best medication for that individual is found.

While the exact mechanism by which psychiatric drugs are helpful is not fully established, many of the ways in which the human body and brain process and interact with most of these medications is known. For newer drugs, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) includes pharmacogenomic biomarker labeling information. This means that the information available to a prescriber about the interaction between a specific psychiatric drug and the individual’s genetic makeup is already considerable and continues to grow.

Reporting Pharmacogenomics

The information obtained with pharmacogenomic testing is shared by the Synchrony’s prescriber with each patient, and when appropriate for minors, with parents. The information is organized into several categories:

Pharmacodynamic: this refers to the effect that a drug has on your body. For example, a drug might bind to a certain receptor in your brain, or you might make a certain protein that increases your risk of a drug induced rash.

Pharmacokinetic: this refers to the effect that your body has on a drug.  For example, your body can absorb and metabolize certain drugs at different speeds which can help personalize medication dosage.  These speeds are different between individuals and determined by genetic variations.

Gene Variations Summary

While pharmacogenomic testing is not a “set of directions,” and other individual factors than genetics are always taken into account, this section of the report provides likely trends of how the person’s genes usually steer reactions to various psychiatric drugs. This section is organized by gene, making the information for practitioner and patient to inform their decisions readily accessible.

Gene Drug Interaction Summary

Each patient report includes a gene-drug interaction summary. The gene-drug interaction summary provides information about how the patient’s genetic profile interacts with medications commonly used in psychiatry. This section of the report is organized by drug so that potential choices of medication can easily be evaluated.

Diagnosis-Specific Summary

This section also provides an easily accessible guide to the practitioner in collaboration with the patient, organizing information by DSM Diagnosis. While this diagnostic system may not fully describe every individual’s experience of psychiatric symptoms and suffering, it does aid in choosing categories of medication. This section of the pharmacogenomic report allows for more personalized narrowing of the choices of medication so that these can be a better fit for the individual.

Pharmacogenomic Testing at Synchrony Brain Health

For more information about pharmacogenomic testing and what genetically-informed psychopharmacology can do for you or a loved one living with a mental health illness, call Synchrony Brain Health today at 866-364-2300.

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