Anne Saker | Cincinnati Enquirer | March 3, 2015
The other Assurex Health researchers on the study were Joseph Carhart, Josiah D. Allen, Bryan M. Dechairo and Dr. Joel G. Winner.
Assurex Health of Mason unveiled fresh evidence Tuesday that its GeneSight genetic test works better than traditional tools in guiding doctors to the best choices among antidepressants and other such drugs to prescribe to ailing patients.
The Pharmacogenomics Journal published the paper Tuesday with the research, which was conducted by C. Anthony Altar, senior vice president for Assurex Health, with four Assurex Health colleagues and Dr. Daniel Hall-Flavin, associate professor of psychiatry at the Mayo Clinic.
“I think all stakeholders will see this paper as a step forward,” Altar said Tuesday.
Assurex Health is the 9-year-old startup in Mason that has pioneered the GeneSight test, a cheek swab that is processed to search for eight genes. Assurex Health then creates a report for doctor and patient showing which of 38 anti-depressants or other psychoactive drugs would best fit the patient’s genetic profile.
The report creates three categories of drugs: green for use as directed, yellow for use with caution, and red for use with close medical monitoring.
The paper published Tuesday reiterates earlier findings that when patients get a better genetic match with antidepressants and other psychotropic medications, their conditions improve, and the patients need less follow-up care.
Last year, Medicare and the Veterans Administration agreed to pay for the GeneSight test for its patients. More than 100,000 people have been given the test.
In The Pharmacogenomics Journal article, Altar and his co-authors examined data from 119 patients in three clinical trials of depression drugs who all were tested with the traditional examinations that search for one gene. The patients also were given the GeneSight test, but neither they nor their doctors knew the outcomes.
After 10 weeks, the authors then looked at the patients’ GeneSight tests results and compared them with how the patients were doing. The patients on drugs that the GeneSight test classified as “red” showed “significantly less improvement” in symptoms than those taking yellow or green medications.
The GeneSight test also broke down how well certain enzymes and proteins in the patients’ bodies metabolized the anti-depressants and other drugs. The single-gene test did not accomplish that task.
Assurex Health paid for the study. Altar’s Assurex Health colleagues on the study were Joseph Carhart, Josiah D. Allen, Bryan M. Dechairo and Dr. Joel G. Winner.