It is hoped the trial, which aims to recruit more than 2,000 in the UK, and another 6,000 patients in Europe, will transform healthcare by identifying the most effective drug for each patient, avoiding unwanted, serious or deadly side-effects.
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, who runs the UK arm of the pan-European trial, says that if successful, the credit cardsized DNA smart cards should be offered widely throughout the NHS within two years.
‘A sea in This would mean all NHS patients having relevant genetic data recorded through a blood test or mouth swab, forming part of their medical records.
Sir Munir said the move would reduce the huge burden of health problems linked to side effects which cost an estimated £1billion a year and see a reduction in the cost of wasted medicines.
Currently 30-60 per cent of drugs may not work effectively in patients and every person metabolises drugs differently.
DNA smart cards could help find the right medication and negate side effects
This transformational work is a major development for the NHS
Sir Munir, the NHS chairman of pharmacogenetics, predicts individual genetic information will be stored on smartphones and linked to a patient’s prescribing doctor.
“This transformational work is a major development for the NHS,” he said. It will form part of a sea change in healthcare and I am very excited about it.”
Sir Munir, a specialist in drugs and DNA at the University of Liverpool and a consultant at Royal Liverpool University Hospital, added: “The use of these cards will get people on safe and effective drugs sooner and could mean the UK becomes the best integrated service for genomic healthcare in the future.”
Information on the cards, from one-off blood tests or tissue swabs, are used to identify variants in a person’s genes which can predict their response to a range of different drugs.
The trial will include variants linked to heart disease, high cholesterol, depression, schizophrenia, pain relief and epilepsy.
Genetically-tailored treatments for other diseases are also on the horizon.
The news follows a Sunday Express report earlier this month, which revealed family doctors in the East of England are to check their patients’ DNA to determine their drug response for treatment of depression, asthma and high cholesterol.
Research shows checking genes for drug response – pharmacogenetic testing – involving a one-off blood test or cheek swab, helps doctors take out the guesswork in picking the right drugs, dose and those likely to have fewer side effects.
Pharmacogenetic testing has seen a reduction in negative side effects from medication
‘Medicine to a Dr Alina Roser, a GP who specialises in genomic medicine at Cambridge University, said: “This form of testing will help revolutionise how we can treat patients and the future of precision medicine using more targeted therapies.
“This will move medicine into a new era, away from the one size fits all, trial-and-error approach we currently use.
“For example, it can take up to four months to get the right treatment for depression and sometimes patients tend to lose hope, putting them at higher risk of suicide. This would mean we could quickly find the drug which they will respond to best.”
Recent advances in genomic medicine have highlighted an individual’s genetic response to about 160 different treatments and genetic profiling has already been used in hospital-based cancer treatments.
Pharmacogenetic tests involve laboratory analysis of a person’s DNA to determine how they will metabolise certain drugs. Scientists have identified small differences in genetic makeup to help predict how patients deal with medicines.
Some show genetic markers indicating they will suffer side effects from certain drugs because they will metabolise them slowly and be likely to experience side effects. Others might not respond at all as they will break down the drug too quickly and a third group will metabolise as intended.
A spokeswoman for Myogenes, a testing company which trains doctors how to use genetic tests said: “Our ambition is to end the ‘one size fits all’ standard and for health to be truly personal.”
‘A sea change in healthcare’ ‘Medicine going to a new era’