New DNA test IDs potentially harmful medication for ADHD, cancer, heart conditions

BiogeniQ, ADHD, News, Health

04 May 2017



More from Susan Kelly, Postmedia Content Works

Published on: April 29, 2017 on

Montreal-based BiogeniQ has pioneered genetic tests that help doctors select the right medications more quickly. It’s a futuristic approach that’s catching on in the here-and-now, especially with parents of children who have attention deficit disorder, with or without hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD).

It’s estimated that one-third of people diagnosed with ADHD do not respond well to the first drug prescribed, and 20 per cent find the second one they try does not do the trick, either. It is not unusual for a child to be prescribed three or four medications in succession before the right one is found, said Michel Cameron, chief scientific officer of BiogeniQ.

“Just think: if your child is diagnosed with ADHD in October, it might take until the new year to find the right medication — which means they might lose an entire semester,” he said.

Launched only six months ago, the company’s ADHD Pharma Profile has become a bestseller. The genetic test is available without a prescription through the BiogeniQ website, or at participating clinics and drugstores at a cost of $285. You place some saliva in the provided container and send it off to the company’s lab, which then analyzes for seven genes and nine molecules. Your doctor will receive a detailed report in one to three weeks.

The physician can use the report to help hone in on which of the 13 medications approved in Canada to treat the disorder is most likely to be effective. They will also know which to avoid because of potential side effects. For example, an incompatible drug may cause a child to have trouble eating or sleeping, or complain of feeling “out of it.”

“This test removes pain and provides a lot of gain for parents,” said Étienne Crevier, founder and CEO of the first company in Canada to provide this kind of testing. “It’s an easy test, with no needles involved, and it can significantly reduce the trial and error of finding the right medication to treat ADHD.”

BiogeniQ also provides insightful reports to assist physicians in the treatment of other conditions, including heart conditions and cancer. There are two reports that address mental-health medications. One pinpoints which of the frequently prescribed anti-depressants could be ineffective for you or are likely to cause unwanted side effects, and the other provides the same information about antipsychotic drugs. A separate report covers pain medications.

There is also a nutritional analysis based on DNA called Nutrition Profile. The test will reveal how your metabolism will react with 10 different and vital nutrients such as folate, vitamin C, and sodium. The $335 cost includes an hour-long consultation with a dietitian, plus access to recipes for one month via email.

What BiogeniQ does — technically called pharmacogenomics — is part of a larger movement called personalized or precision medicine, described by the Mayo Clinic as aiming to “customize health care, with decisions and treatments tailored to each individual patient in every way possible.”

“It’s time to get away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to medicine,” Crevier said. “And we want to empower patients, making it simple for them to obtain vital genetic information and better manage their health.”

Theory aside, this geneticist admits many doctors are unaware of the time-saving benefits of genetic testing for drug effectiveness. He finds the results of a recent Quebec Network for Personalized Health Care study of 422 physicians in the province encouraging, though. It shows 90 per cent would use the kind of information pharmacogenomics provides in their practices if it were available to them.

“Too many people still think pharmacogenomics belong to the distant future,” Crevier said. “The future is now.”

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This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of BiogeniQ.