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Genetic Tests in the Treatment of Depression Not Yet Useful

There is insufficient evidence to determine if current gene-based tests intended to personalize the dose of medications in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors //(SSRIs) improve patient outcomes or aid in treatment decisions in the clinical setting, according to a new evidence report supported by a collaboration of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Office of Public Health Genomics.

This evidence report is the first step in the two-step process of CDC’s Evaluation of Genomic Applications in Practice and Prevention (EGAPP) pilot project to evaluate and make recommendations regarding the use of gene-based tests. Funding for the report was provided by CDC.

The report found that tests evaluating differences in genes belonging to the Cytochrome P450, or CYP450, family that affect the rate at which a person metabolizes SSRIs are largely accurate. However, the researchers did not find any evidence that such tests led to improved patient outcomes or had an impact on treatment decisions for patients with depression. The researchers noted that other genetic factors and non-genetic factors such as diet and other medical conditions may have an impact on a patient’s response to treatment.

'This report highlights how systematically reviewing scientific findings can help guide future research,' said Beth A. Collins Sharp, Ph.D., R.N., director of AHRQ’s Evidence-based Practice Center Program. 'This information will help identify the types of studies that are necessary to help better understand various treatment response issues.'

Researchers performed a comprehensive review of the literature and found no well-designed studies that evaluated clinical outcomes of tests to detect differences in genes belonging to the CYP450 family. These genes produce enzymes that break down SSRIs and many other classes of drugs. Most studies included a s
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