THURSDAY, March 29 (HealthDay News) -- For the first time, a genetic test done at a patient's bedside helped doctors choose the right medicine, Canadian researchers report.
The test, which can be done by nurses and others, was able to identify patients in whom the blood thinner Plavix might be ineffective, putting the patients at risk for heart attacks or strokes.
"One of the shortcomings we have in medicine right now is that there isn't a quick and effective way of identifying these genetic variants," said lead researcher Dr. Derek So, from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
"We have created the world's first point-of-care genetic test," he said. "We now have the means of selecting the right drug for the right patient."
The report was published in the March 29 online edition of The Lancet.
To prove the test works, So's team randomly assigned 200 patients to either receive screening for a gene called CYP2C19*2 using the gene test, or to regular care.
All of the patients had undergone a procedure called angioplasty to open a blocked heart artery and had a stent placed there to keep the vessel open.
Standard care after the procedure is to give patients Plavix to prevent clotting. However, many patients have this gene mutation, which makes the drug ineffective and patients more likely to develop a clot that could result in a heart attack or stroke.
Among those with European ancestry, about 30 percent have this mutation, and among Asians it's as high as 50 percent, the researchers noted.
Normally, after starting a patient on Plavix, a platelet function blood test is done to see how the patient reacts to the drug.
In this study, those getting the gene test were given a low dose of Plavix and the others received a regular dose. Both groups were given the drug so the researchers could judge the accuracy of the rapid gene test
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