A novel study has shown that prescribing medication dosage in accordance with a patient’s DNA can bring down the side effects by 30%–a significant figure.
The international study was led by Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC), and their findings were published in the journal The Lancet.
“The one-size-fits-all approach for prescribing medication is outdated,” LUMC said in a statement.
How people respond to medication varies greatly due to differences in people’s genetic information. For instance, some people metabolize medication faster, making a higher dosage necessary for effective treatment, NLTimes reported.
“Personalized treatment is therefore desirable,” according to the university hospital.
The researchers crafted a DNA medication pass that associates the dosage of medication influenced by DNA according to a patient’s DNA profile. On scanning the pass, doctors and pharmacists are informed of the optimal medication dose that would be appropriate for the individual being treated.
For the study, researchers enrolled around 7,000 patients from seven European countries to test the pass. Each participant was prescribed a drug whose processing is influenced by the DNA. The study was limited to 39 selected drugs from a myriad of medical specializations, including oncology, cardiology, psychiatry, and general medicine. The participants were divided into two groups–half used the standard dosage of the medicine, while the rest had the dosage adjusted based on their DNA pass, according to the outlet.
Before starting the medication schedule, the DNA of each patient was mapped. By looking at 12 specific genes, researchers found 50 types of genetic variants affected how the 39 selected drugs worked. After 12 weeks, patients were asked for feedback by a nurse specialist regarding the prevalence of side effects, such as diarrhea, anemia, nerve pain, or loss of taste.
“The Lancet study found that patients who actively make use of the medication pass, and whose doses are adjusted according to their DNA, experience 30% fewer serious side effects than patients who were prescribed a standard dose of medicine,” the statement read.
Moreover, patients were satisfied in using the pass as they felt they were more in control and involved in their treatment.
“For the first time, we have proven that a ‘tailored’ strategy works at a large scale within clinical practice. There is now enough evidence for us to proceed with implementation,” said Henk-Jan Guchelaar, Professor of Clinical Pharmacy at LUMC and coordinator of the study.
“This means the next step for us is to start making use of the DNA medication pass,” Jesse Swen, Professor of Clinical Pharmacy and principal investigator, added.
Guchelaar and Swen believe that the DNA pass should be made part of standard care.
“We want to move towards mapping the DNA of every patient who comes to the pharmacy,” Guchelaar noted. “In this way, we can make treatment more effective and safer for each patient.”