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Researchers Use Genetics to Predict Response to Antipsychotic Medications

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Researchers Use Genetics to Predict Response to Antipsychotic Medications
Researchers Use Genetics to Predict Response to Antipsychotic Medications

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For this study, Feinstein Institute professor Todd Lencz and his team used genetic tests to predict ultimate response to medications in patients suffering their first episode of schizophrenia. Rather than testing for a single gene, investigators used a relatively new approach called “polygenic risk scores.”

“Polygenic risk scores represent the combined effects of many thousands of genetic variants across the entire genome, and better represent the very complex genetic nature of schizophrenia,” said Jian-Ping Zhang, MD, assistant professor at the Feinstein Institute and lead author of the study.

Researchers found that patients with higher polygenic risk scores, or greater genetic burden of illness, were less likely to respond to conventional antipsychotic treatment. These results were replicated in two independent cohorts, representing an international collaboration of Feinstein Institute scientists with researchers across Europe, further reinforcing that this approach should be further explored.

“The results we found open the door for ‘precision medicine’ approaches to psychiatry, and more specifically, the use of polygene scores as a new technology for the treatment of psychiatric disorders,” Lencz said.

The researchers hope to expand the study, with the ultimate goal of developing clinical guidelines for the use of polygenic risk scores and other predictors (such as brain scans) in the treatment of schizophrenia.

“Drs. Lencz and Zhang’s work is a major advance in the field of precision medicine for schizophrenia,” said Kevin J. Tracey, MD, president, and CEO of the Feinstein Institute. “Therapy tailored to a patient’s polygenic risk scores potentially represents a major advance over current trial and error approaches.”

Source: rdmag.com

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