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Human or Superhuman? – National Catholic Register

Posted: May 24, 2018 at 8:44 pm

Church Teaching on Genetic Engineering: May 6 issue column.

Human genetic engineering has always been the stuff of science-fiction novels and blockbuster Hollywood films. Except that it is no longer confined to books and movies.

Scientists and doctors are already attempting to genetically alter human beings and our cells. And whether you realize it or not, you and your children are being bombarded in popular media with mixed messages on the ethics surrounding human genetic engineering.

So what does the Church say about the genetic engineering of humans?

The majority of Catholics would likely say that the Church opposes any genetic modification in humans. But that is not what our Church teaches. Actually, the Church does support human genetic engineering; it just has to be the right kind.

Surprised? Most Catholics probably are.

To understand Catholic Church teaching on genetic engineering, it is critical to understand an important distinction under the umbrella of genetic engineering: the difference between therapy and enhancement. It is a distinction that every Catholic should learn to identify, both in the real world and in fiction. Gene therapy and genetic enhancement are technically both genetic engineering, but there are important moral differences.

For decades, researchers have worked toward using genetic modification called gene therapy to cure devastating genetic diseases. Gene therapy delivers a copy of a normal gene into the cells of a patient in an attempt to correct a defective gene. This genetic alteration would then cure or slow the progress of that disease. In many cases, the added gene would produce a protein that is missing or not functioning in a patient because of a genetic mutation.

One of the best examples where researchers hope gene therapy will be able to treat genetic disease is Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or DMD. DMD is an inherited disorder where a patient cannot make dystrophin, a protein that supports muscle tissue. DMD strikes in early childhood and slowly degrades all muscle tissue, including heart muscle. The average life expectancy of someone with DMD is only 30 years.

Over the last few years, researchers have been studying mice with DMD. They have been successful in inserting the normal dystrophin gene into the DNA of the mice. These genetically engineered mice were then able to produce eight times more dystrophin than mice with DMD. More dystrophin means more muscle, which, in the case of a devastating muscle-wasting disease like DMD, would be a lifesaver.

Almost immediately after the announcement of this breakthrough, the researchers were inundated with calls from bodybuilders and athletes who wanted to be genetically modified to make more muscle.

The callers essentially wanted to take the genetic engineering designed to treat a fatal disease and apply it to their already healthy bodies.

Genetically engineering a normal man who wants more muscle to improve his athletic ability is no longer gene therapy. Instead, it is genetic enhancement.

Genetic enhancement would take an otherwise healthy person and genetically modify him to be more than human, not just in strength, but also in intelligence, beauty or any other desirable trait.

So why is the distinction between gene therapy and genetic enhancement important? The Catholic Church is clear that gene therapy is good, while genetic enhancement is morally wrong.

Why? Because gene therapy seeks to return a patient to normal human functioning. Genetic enhancement, on the other hand, assumes that mans normal state is flawed and lacking, that mans natural biology needs enhancing. Genetic enhancement would intentionally and fundamentally alter a human being in ways not possible by nature, which means in ways God never intended.

The goal of medical intervention must always be the natural development of a human being, respecting the patients inherent dignity and worth. Enhancement destroys that inherent dignity by completely rejecting mankinds natural biology. From the Charter for Health Care Workers by the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance:

In moral evaluation, a distinction must be made between strictly therapeutic manipulation, which aims to cure illnesses caused by genetic or chromosome anomalies (genetic therapy), and manipulation, altering the human genetic patrimony. A curative intervention, which is also called genetic surgery, will be considered desirable in principle, provided its purpose is the real promotion of the personal well-being of the individual, without damaging his integrity or worsening his condition of life.

On the other hand, interventions which are not directly curative, the purpose of which is the production of human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities, which change the genotype of the individual and of the human species, are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being, to his integrity and to his identity. Therefore, they can be in no way justified on the pretext that they will produce some beneficial results for humanity in the future. No social or scientific usefulness and no ideological purpose could ever justify an intervention on the human genome unless it be therapeutic; that is, its finality must be the natural development of the human being.

So genetic engineering to cure or treat disease or disability is good.

Genetic engineering to change the fundamental nature of mankind, to take an otherwise healthy person and engineer him to be more than human is bad.

There is much misinformation surrounding the Catholic Churchs teaching on human genetic engineering. One example is in a piece in The New York Times by David Frum. Frum states that John Paul II supported genetic enhancement and, therefore, the Church does as well. Frum performs a sleight of hand, whether intentional or not. See if you can spot it:

The anti-abortion instincts of many conservatives naturally incline them to look at such [genetic engineering] techniques with suspicion and, indeed, it is certainly easy to imagine how they might be abused. Yet in an important address delivered as long ago as 1983, Pope John Paul II argued that genetic enhancement was permissible indeed, laudable even from a Catholic point of view, as long as it met certain basic moral rules. Among those rules: that these therapies be available to all.

Frum discusses enhancement and therapy as if they are the same. He equates them using the words therapies and enhancement interchangeably. Because John Paul II praised gene therapy, the assumption was that he must laud genetic enhancement as well. This confusion is common because, many argue, there is not a technical difference between therapy and enhancement, so lumping them together is acceptable.

Catholics must not fall into this trap. Philosophically, gene therapy and genetic enhancement are different. One seeks to return normal functioning; the other seeks to take normal functioning and alter it to be abnormal.

There are practical differences between therapy and enhancement as well. Genetic engineering has already had unintended consequences and unforeseen side effects. Gene-therapy trials to cure disease in humans have been going on for decades. All has not gone as planned. Some patients have developed cancer as a result of these attempts at genetically altering their cells.

In 1999, a boy named Jesse Gelsinger was injected with a virus designed to deliver a gene to treat a genetic liver disease. Jesse could have continued with his current treatment regime of medication, but he wanted to help others with the same disorder, so he enrolled in the trial. Tragically, Jesse died four days later from the gene therapy he received.

In 2007, 36-year-old mother Jolee Mohr died while participating in a gene-therapy trial. She had rheumatoid arthritis, and just after the gene therapy (also using a virus for delivery) was injected into her knee, she developed a sudden infection that caused organ failure. An investigation concluded that her death was likely not a direct result of the gene therapy, but some experts think that with something as treatable as rheumatoid arthritis she should never have been entered into such a trial. They argued that, because of the risks, gene therapy should only be used for treating life-threatening illness.

In other words, genetic engineering should only be tried in cases where the benefits will outweigh the risks, as in the treatment of life-threatening conditions. Currently, gene therapy is being undertaken because the risk of the genetic engineering is outweighed by the devastation of the disease it is attempting to cure. With the risks inherent in genetic modification, it should never be attempted on an otherwise healthy person.

You may be thinking that such risky enhancement experiments would never happen. Scientists and doctors would never attempt genetic modifications in healthy humans; human enhancements only exist in science fiction and will stay there. Except science and academia are already looking into it.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Maxwell Mehlman, director of the Law-Medicine Center at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, $773,000 to develop standards for tests on human subjects in genetic-enhancement research. Research that would take otherwise normal humans and make them smarter, stronger or better-looking. If the existing human-trial standards cannot meet the ethical conditions needed for genetic-enhancement research, Mehlman has been asked to recommend changes.

In a recent paper in the journal Ethics, Policy & Environment, S. Matthew Liao, a professor of philosophy and bioethics at New York University, explored ways humanity can change its nature to combat climate change. One of the suggestions Liao discusses is to genetically engineer human eyes to be like cat eyes so we can all see in the dark. This would reduce the need for lighting and reduce energy usage. Liao also discusses genetically modifying our offspring to be smaller so they eat less and use fewer resources.

Of course, Liao insists these are just discussions of possibilities, but what begins as discussions among academics often becomes common among the masses.

Once gene therapy has been perfected and becomes a mainstream treatment for genetic disease, the cries for genetic enhancement will be deafening. The masses will scream that they can do to their bodies as they wish and they wish to no longer be simply human. They wish to be super human.

And with conscience clauses for medical professionals under attack, doctors and nurses may be unable to morally object to genetically altering their perfectly healthy patient or a parents perfectly healthy child.

It is important for Catholics to not turn their backs on technical advancements in biotechnology simply because the advancements are complex.

We can still influence the public consciousness when it comes to human genetic engineering. We are obliged to loudly draw the line between therapy and enhancement otherwise, society, like Frum, will confuse the two.

It is not too late to make sure medically relevant genetic engineering does not turn into engineering that forever changes the nature of man.

Rebecca Taylor is a clinicallaboratory specialist inmolecular biology.She writes about bioethics on her

blog Mary Meets Dolly.

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Human or Superhuman? – National Catholic Register

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Dr. James Anderson, MD – Clarksville, TN – Neurology …

Posted: May 24, 2018 at 8:44 pm

Peripheral Nerve Disorders includes other areas of care:

– Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy

– Alcoholic Neuropathy

– Alcoholic Polyneuropathy

– Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy

– Auditory Neuropathy

– Autonomic Disorders

– Autonomic Dysreflexia

– Autonomic Neuropathy

– Carcinomatous Polyneuropathy

– Carotid Sinus Syncope

– Chronic Demyelinating Neuropathy With IgM Monoclonal Gammapathy

– Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy

– Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy

– Congenital Neuropathy With Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita

– Congenital Sensory Neuropathy With Neurotrophic Keratitis

– Demyelinating Polyneuropathy

– Diabetic Neuropathy

– Diabetic Polyneuropathy

– Hand Neuropathy

– Hereditary Neuropathy With Liability to Pressure Palsies

– Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathy, Type I

– Infantile Refsum Disease

– Inflammatory and Toxic Neuropathy

– Inflammatory Neuropathies

– Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy

– Metabolic Neuropathy

– Motor and Sensory Neuropathy With Sensorineural Hearing Loss, Bouldin Type

– Motor Neuropathy

– Motor Neuropathy, Peripheral With Dysautonomia

– Multifocal Motor Neuropathy

– Multifocal Motor Neuropathy With Conduction Block

– Neuropathy, Distal Hereditary Motor

– Neuropathy, Distal Hereditary Motor, Jerash Type

– Neuropathy, Distal Hereditary Motor, Type III

– Neuropathy, Distal Hereditary Motor, Type VIIa

– Neuropathy, Hereditary Motor and Sensory, Lom Type

– Neuropathy, Hereditary Motor and Sensory, Okinawa Type

– Neuropathy, Hereditary Sensory, Radicular

– Neuropathy, Hereditary Sensory, Type I

– Neuropathy, Hereditary Sensory, Type II

– Neuropathy, Hereditary Sensory, Type IV

– Neuropathy, Motor & Sensory

– Optic Neuropathy

– Peripheral Neuropathy

– Peroneal Muscular Atrophy

– Polyneuropathy

– Polyradiculoneuropathy

– Pudenal Neuropathy

– Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy

– Retrobulbar Neuropathy

– Sensory Neuropathy With Spastic Paraplegia

– Spinal Bulbar Motor Neuropathy

– Spinocerebellar Ataxia With Axonal Neuropathy, Type 2

– Spinocerebellar Ataxia, Autosomal Recessive, With Axonal Neuropathy

– Toxic Polyneuropathy Due to Acrylamide

– Ulnar Neuropathy

– Vascular Neuropathy

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Dr. James Anderson, MD – Clarksville, TN – Neurology …

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biotechnology | Definition, Examples, & Applications …

Posted: May 23, 2018 at 1:45 pm

Biotechnology, the use of biology to solve problems and make useful products. The most prominent area of biotechnology is the production of therapeutic proteins and other drugs through genetic engineering.

People have been harnessing biological processes to improve their quality of life for some 10,000 years, beginning with the first agricultural communities. Approximately 6,000 years ago, humans began to tap the biological processes of microorganisms in order to make bread, alcoholic beverages, and cheese and to preserve dairy products. But such processes are not what is meant today by biotechnology, a term first widely applied to the molecular and cellular technologies that began to emerge in the 1960s and 70s. A fledgling biotech industry began to coalesce in the mid- to late 1970s, led by Genentech, a pharmaceutical company established in 1976 by Robert A. Swanson and Herbert W. Boyer to commercialize the recombinant DNA technology pioneered by Boyer and Stanley N. Cohen. Early companies such as Genentech, Amgen, Biogen, Cetus, and Genex began by manufacturing genetically engineered substances primarily for medical and environmental uses.

For more than a decade, the biotechnology industry was dominated by recombinant DNA technology, or genetic engineering. This technique consists of splicing the gene for a useful protein (often a human protein) into production cellssuch as yeast, bacteria, or mammalian cells in culturewhich then begin to produce the protein in volume. In the process of splicing a gene into a production cell, a new organism is created. At first, biotechnology investors and researchers were uncertain about whether the courts would permit them to acquire patents on organisms; after all, patents were not allowed on new organisms that happened to be discovered and identified in nature. But, in 1980, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Diamond v. Chakrabarty, resolved the matter by ruling that a live human-made microorganism is patentable subject matter. This decision spawned a wave of new biotechnology firms and the infant industrys first investment boom. In 1982 recombinant insulin became the first product made through genetic engineering to secure approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Since then, dozens of genetically engineered protein medications have been commercialized around the world, including recombinant versions of growth hormone, clotting factors, proteins for stimulating the production of red and white blood cells, interferons, and clot-dissolving agents.

In the early years, the main achievement of biotechnology was the ability to produce naturally occurring therapeutic molecules in larger quantities than could be derived from conventional sources such as plasma, animal organs, and human cadavers. Recombinant proteins are also less likely to be contaminated with pathogens or to provoke allergic reactions. Today, biotechnology researchers seek to discover the root molecular causes of disease and to intervene precisely at that level. Sometimes this means producing therapeutic proteins that augment the bodys own supplies or that make up for genetic deficiencies, as in the first generation of biotech medications. (Gene therapyinsertion of genes encoding a needed protein into a patients body or cellsis a related approach.) But the biotechnology industry has also expanded its research into the development of traditional pharmaceuticals and monoclonal antibodies that stop the progress of a disease. Such steps are uncovered through painstaking study of genes (genomics), the proteins that they encode (proteomics), and the larger biological pathways in which they act.

In addition to the tools mentioned above, biotechnology also involves merging biological information with computer technology (bioinformatics), exploring the use of microscopic equipment that can enter the human body (nanotechnology), and possibly applying techniques of stem cell research and cloning to replace dead or defective cells and tissues (regenerative medicine). Companies and academic laboratories integrate these disparate technologies in an effort to analyze downward into molecules and also to synthesize upward from molecular biology toward chemical pathways, tissues, and organs.

In addition to being used in health care, biotechnology has proved helpful in refining industrial processes through the discovery and production of biological enzymes that spark chemical reactions (catalysts); for environmental cleanup, with enzymes that digest contaminants into harmless chemicals and then die after consuming the available food supply; and in agricultural production through genetic engineering.

Agricultural applications of biotechnology have proved the most controversial. Some activists and consumer groups have called for bans on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or for labeling laws to inform consumers of the growing presence of GMOs in the food supply. In the United States, the introduction of GMOs into agriculture began in 1993, when the FDA approved bovine somatotropin (BST), a growth hormone that boosts milk production in dairy cows. The next year, the FDA approved the first genetically modified whole food, a tomato engineered for a longer shelf life. Since then, regulatory approval in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere has been won by dozens of agricultural GMOs, including crops that produce their own pesticides and crops that survive the application of specific herbicides used to kill weeds. Studies by the United Nations, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the European Union, the American Medical Association, U.S. regulatory agencies, and other organizations have found GMO foods to be safe, but skeptics contend that it is still too early to judge the long-term health and ecological effects of such crops. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the land area planted in genetically modified crops increased dramatically, from 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres) in 1996 to 160 million hectares (395 million acres) by 2011.

Overall, the revenues of U.S. and European biotechnology industries roughly doubled over the five-year period from 1996 through 2000. Rapid growth continued into the 21st century, fueled by the introduction of new products, particularly in health care.

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biotechnology | Definition, Examples, & Applications …

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Stem Cell Therapy – Cendant Stem Cell Center – Denver …

Posted: May 23, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Harnessing stem cells to cure disease is the hottest topic in joint injury, knee pain and arthritis treatment today. By using the adult stem cells found in our own bodies, we can amplify and speed up the natural healing process as well as grow new bone and cartilage to rebuild joints without the need for artificial replacements.

At Cendant Stem Cell Centerin Denver and our new Milwaukee Wisconsin clinic, we provide our patients with the most recent technological advancements available for treating orthopedic injuries and conditions. Our Stem Cell therapy procedureprovides treatment to repair damaged cartilage, restore function, eliminate hip, shoulder, back and knee pain and to prevent further joint destruction.

The patients adipose (fat) derived Stem Cells and/or bone marrow derived Stem Cells are injected alongwith Platelet Rich Plasma into the joint capsule space. These components are put on top of an Extracellular Fiber Matrixwhich is injected into the joint capsule before the introduction of Stem Cells. This FDA approved fiberis a major advancement in the Stem Cell procedure which gives Stem Cells a structure to bind and growupon inside the joint space. The technology allows us to treat older patients and patients with more aggressive joint disease who are facing replacement surgery or suffering from chronic pain.

The Stem Cell procedureis virtually painless, takes 3 hours and is performed under local anesthesia. It requires little to no downtime and is effective, fast and safe. Please visit our Video Testimonials page to hear from our patients and why they choose our Denver and Milwaukee stem cell clinics for their medical needs.

Ourunique approach to stem cell therapy does not offer a single franchised solution. Cendants multiple technologies provide case-driven stem cell treatment options to address individual patient needs.

Medical researchers are reporting remarkable results using platelet rich plasma and stem cellsin the treatment of common injuries, including:

What should patients expect after Stem Cell Therapy?

The noticeable regeneration of the joint tissue and cartilage typically starts to occur within 3 weeks. Most of our patients report asubstantialreduction in pain and improved function within 4-6 weeksafter treatment. Many report total pain elimination within 10-12 weeks. Within 3-5 daysafter the procedure, most patients can return to work and resume normal daily activities. Patients cannot start stressful activity or begin strenuous exercise for six weeks. Returning to stressful activity before six weeks may result in incomplete healing of the treated tissue.

Is this therapy safe?

Yes. Autologous PRP therapy and Stem Cell therapy has been used for over 10 years in surgical and orthopedic procedures. There are many research articles published on the safety of these therapies. Because a patients own blood and cells are used, there is little risk of a transmissible infection, no side effects and a very low risk of allergic reaction.

How many treatments are required?

We treat most patients aggressively upon the first visit with a mix of PRP, Extracellular Fiber Matrix and Stem Cells which all work together to create yourregenerative injection. Most patients need only 1 treatment but you could potentially have a follow up pure PRP injection which is thought of as a booster shot, the primary function of which is to stimulate continual stem cell growth.

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Stem Cell Therapy – Cendant Stem Cell Center – Denver …

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Pet Stem Cell Therapy | Safari Veterinary Care Centers in …

Posted: May 22, 2018 at 6:44 am

Applying regenerative cells from your pets own healthy tissue directly to the site of an injury helps the body heal itself by secreting growth factors, reducing inflammation, modulating the immune system and regenerating injured tissue in a potent but natural way. This holistic process can be used in addition to or as an alternative to chronic drug therapy or surgery saving 1000s of dollars over your pets life.

Fat tissue is obtained from your pet in an in-clinic procedure, and regenerative cells (including stem cells) are prepared for re-injection in about 90 minutes. Initial results may be evident as early as the 1st week.

Regenerative cells promote healing and regeneration of injured or damaged tissue. Stem cells are regenerative cells that can differentiate into multiple cell types to form new functional tissue. These cells, located in your pets fat stores can be harvested, separated from the fat and stimulated to revert to an active reparative state. Regenerative cells may also secrete factors that reduce autoimmune responses and inflammation, promote cell survival, and stimulate tissue regeneration.

Our system providers; InGeneron and Medivet Biologics have been conducting research for years on the use of autologous adult stem cells in regenerative medicine. InGenerons team of scientists and clinicians have published more than 40 peer-reviewed studies in collaboration with renowned academic facilities such as M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Tulane University. Medivet is currently conducting research on stem cell therapy for osteoarthritis at Kansas State University, and Cartilage Regeneration and osteoarthritis at the University of Georgia.

Unlike other cell therapy procedures, both the InGeneron and MediVet systems enable isolation and treatment within the same day processed at the Safari Stem Cell Laboratory assuring high quality and quantity of cells.

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Pet Stem Cell Therapy | Safari Veterinary Care Centers in …

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April 16: Pharmacogenomics – National Human Genome …

Posted: May 22, 2018 at 6:41 am

PharmacogenomicsChoosing the right medication at the right dose for each patient

April 16, 2018

Did you know … that the sequence of your genome can determine how you respond to certain medications?

Understanding pharmacogenomics, or tailoring a person’s medications based on their genome, would not be possible without sequencing the genomes of many people and comparing their responses to medicines.

Oneof the most important uses for DNA sequencing is not to just sequence one human genome – but rather to sequence many human genomes to understand how genomic differences relate to different traits. Some such traits reflect physical characteristics (like eye color), whereas others can be used to help in the clinical care of patients. Scientists in the field of pharmacogenomics study how specific variants in your genome sequence influence your response to medications.

In order for our bodies to use some medicines properly, the cells in our bodies must make a few chemical changes that convert them into an active form, just like we do when we eat food. Then, these active forms of the medicine must get to the right places in the body or inside cells to do the job that we want them to do. If we want to make sure this happens, it makes sense that we would target our bodies’ pathways involved in changing the medicine’s form or in getting medicines to the right places. For example, you probably know someone who takes an antidepressant. Many of these medicines get to the right places by interacting with a protein called ABCB1,which works like a traffic cop on the outside of your cells.

Given ABCB1’s important role in controlling traffic, you might imagine that if someone has a genomic variant that changes the shape or function of their ABCB1 protein, they might have a different response than usual to any number of medicines. We now know that is the case for some antidepressants, as well as other medications like statins for cholesterol and certain chemotherapy medicines. As a result, there are at least 18 pharmacogenomic tests for variants in ABCB1 listed in the NIH’s Genetic Test Registry, with suggestions that you be tested for these variants to help determine the correct dose for certain medications.

Video courtesy of Mayo Clinic

Healthcare professionals and researchers are constantly seeking both to optimize medical treatments and to avoid adverse (or negative) reactions to treatments, which are estimated to affect between 7 percentand 14 percentof hospitalized patients. This makes adverse reactions a large cause of added days spent in a hospital, and the fourth leading cause of death in the United States.

One scary example of such an adverse reaction is Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS), a severe allergic reaction also called “scalded skin syndrome.” It can be caused by infections, but also by very common medications like ibuprofen, anti-seizure medicines, or antibiotics. Patients may go from taking two pain pills to ending up in the hospital burn unit fighting for their lives if SJS progresses to a worse condition called toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN). TEN is diagnosed when patients have shed at least one-third of the skin off of their bodies. Needless to say, anything we can do to prevent this allergic reaction is vitally important.

In Taiwan, married scientists Wen-Hung Chung (a physician) and Shuen-Iu Hung (an immunologist) noticed that SJS/TEN was much more common in patients taking carbamazepine, used to treat epilepsy and seizures, or allopurinol, used to treat gout. They showed that this was due to genomic variants in the HLA-B gene. Not surprisingly, this gene helps control the immune response. As a result of their work, the country of Thailand has implemented genomic testing before these medications are prescribed. The results of this “pharmacogenomic test” are used to decide whether it is safe to give a specific patient certain medicines, like carbamazepine or allopurinol. Thailand’s government even covers the cost of this testing, and the frequency of SJS/TEN has been drastically reduced. We have since learned that different ancestries are associated with different HLA-B genomic variants, so countries may need to take different approaches to monitor which medications are most likely to be linked to SJS/TEN.

Video courtesy of Mayo Clinic

Understanding pharmacogenomics would not be possible without sequencing the genomes of many people and comparing them, and then comparing their response to medicines. But we have also learned that a person’s genome sequence is not everything when it comes to medication responses. The human body is a very complicated machine, and the instructions written in our DNA are just part of the process.

There are some cases, as with the breast cancer treatment tamoxifen, where a small study showed that there might be a relationship between someone’s response to the medicine and a variant in the CYP2D6 gene. However, this finding did not appear to be true in a larger study that involved many more people. That’s why at this time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labeling for tamoxifen does not recommend CYP2D6 pharmacogenomic testing, but the issue is still being reviewed as more research is conducted.

Another gene in the same CYP family, called CYP2C19, has variations which affect how your body can use clopidogrel (more commonly known as Plavix). This medication is a “blood thinner” which helps prevent blood clots, and thus reduces your risk of strokes or some heart attacks. If your CYP2C19 protein is not working properly due to a mutation in the gene, then you will not be able to process clopidogrel, and you need either a different dose or a different medication. As it turns out, these variants in CYP2C19 are also more common in those with Asian ancestry. Although testing for variants in this gene is also not routinely recommended, you may wish to speak with your healthcare provider about the test if you are given a prescription for clopidogrel, particularly if you have East Asian family members.

As the field of pharmacogenomics develops, more and more clinical trials will test for interactions between our genomes and the medicines we take. If you are interested in participating in such trials, you can search the ClinicalTrials.gov registry and look for ongoing studies with your condition. If you are curious whether any of your medications are known to be associated with pharmacogenomic information, check out the Pharmacogenomics Knowledge Database and speak with your medical care team. And, if you’d like to be part of a national effort along with one million other people that will involve pharmacogenomics research, look into the National Institute of Health’s All of Us program.

Posted: April 16, 2018

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