Researchers at Imperial College London say they have developed a device that may helps doctors predict adverse reaction to specific drugs in patients. The unit, called Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Doctor (SNP Dr, pronounced ‘snip doctor’), can identify the presence of specific DNA sequences in a patient’s genome, that might be markers of potential reactions to a medication.
From a statement by Imperial College London:
The SNP Dr works by analysing genetic variations found in DNA called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). SNPs are the parts of human DNA that make us all respond differently to disease, bacteria, viruses, toxins or medication.
In particular, researchers are exploring how the SNP Dr might detect genetic sequences linked with metabolism. A slow metabolism can make drugs stay in the body longer, causing adverse side effects, while a fast metabolism can process medication too quickly for it to have any effect.
The SNP Dr works by analysing the DNA in saliva or cheek swab samples, which are placed in a cartridge and exposed to the silicon chip sensors inside the device. A copy of the fast or slow metabolic SNPs is contained in the chip. If they detect a match, a message is displayed on the SNP Dr’s console. The doctor can then assess their patient in the GP surgery, without a lengthy and costly laboratory analysis, and prescribe dosages and treatments accordingly.