Geneticists and personalized medicine stakeholders have long maintained that testing procedures would rapidly become cheaper and more efficient as new techniques were developed. They may not have realized that perhaps the most brisk of all medical assessments used for other purposes – a bedside cheek swab – may already be used for genetic testing.
The Rapid Gene study, conducted by researchers from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI), identified patients with certain heart conditions who had a specific genetic variant that made them more likely to develop a negative reaction to a specific heart medication.
About one in three patients who did not receive the gene test experienced a negative reaction to the drug within one week, while none of the patients who were tested before receiving either that drug, or if necessary, an alternate treatment, developed negative side effects.
"For the first time in medicine, nurses were able to perform DNA testing at the patient's bedside," lead researcher and UOHI interventional cardiologist Dr. Derek So told Science Daily. "This is a significant step towards the vision of personalized medicine."
This particular method is also notable because it only required nurses to receive 30 minutes of training immediately before conducting the test. Procedures such as these will provide more patients with access to personalized treatments, which should enhance health outcomes.
Diagnostic laboratories will continue to play a significant role in the development and subsequent assessments of these types of tests. Personalized medicine will become truly beneficial to the healthcare community once treatments become uniquely tailored to smaller segments of the population. As researchers spend more time with these tests, they should also become cheaper and more easily expedited.
This article is brought to you by Slone Partners, a leading laboratory recruitment firm in the emerging sciences of molecular, clinical, and in-vitro diagnostics, anatomic pathology and personalized medicine.
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