For heart patients, bedside DNA test keeps stents working

For personalized medicine in real time, this shoebox-sized device could prevent complications in patients recovering from heart procedures.

After receiving a stent to prop open arteries, patients are usually prescribed blood thinners to prevent platelets from building up inside. But recovery for some are complicated by a single gene that’s responsible for processing drugs.

With this device – the first bedside genetic test – patients who need a different medication can be quickly identified. Technology Review reports.

For about 70% of patients with Asian ancestry and another 30% of patients with African or European ancestry, a single genetic variant will prevent commonly prescribed blood thinners, such as Plavix, from working.

But expensive alternatives do exist. So to determine ahead of time who would need those,Spartan Bioscience in Canada developed a ‘plug-and-play’ genotyping device that quickly lets nurses screen patients at their bedside – even as they’re undergoing the stent placement.

A DNA sample is swabbed from the patient’s cheek, inserted into a tube, and then placed into the machine. Within an hour, it prints out the patient’s genetic status for that drug-processing variant. (Most off-site genetics testing takes several days.)

According to Spartan Bioscience founder Paula Lem, over $1 billion have been spent in the last 5 years by various companies to develop such a bedside genetic test.

Researchers from University of Ottawa Heart Institute conducted a proof-of-principle trial for the device. They found that the test is effective at quickly identifying carriers of the drug-processing variant and can be performed with minimal training.

Spartan Bioscience received regulatory approval for the test in Europe in 2010 and hopes to have approval in the US by the end of this year. They’re giving away the devices for free and charging $200 per test.

The findings were published in The Lancet last week.

[Via Technology Review]

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