Washington, June 20 : A new study has shown how minor genetic differences between individuals alter the way a common drug affects the body - paving the way for personalized medicine that is based not only on symptoms but also on the patient's own genetic 'baggage'.
The study was conducted by Dr Rima Rozen of the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) at the Montreal Children's Hospital and McGill University. For the study, Rozen measured the impact of Methotrexate - a drug that inhibits the metabolism of folate - on mice with an altered MTHFR gene, which is a gene crucial for folate metabolism.
She found that after treatment with Methotrexate, mice with the altered gene had approximately 20 per cent less hemoglobin and red blood cells than their counterparts with non-altered genes.
The altered mice also showed increased susceptibility to liver and kidney damage following treatment.
"We know that these results are applicable to humans because a parallel mutation in the human MTHFR gene affects human folate metabolism similarly. The results demonstrate that medication affects subjects differently according to individual genetic traits. And tests exist to detect this mutation," Dr. Rozen said.
Genetic testing would allow physicians the modify treatment based on each patient's personal genetic makeup, limiting potential side effects.
"This is a first step towards personalized medicine that is based not only on symptoms but also on the patient's own genetic 'baggage.' This trend definitely represents the medicine of the future," Rozen said.
The study is published in the journal Pharmacogenetics and Genomics.