Statin drugs (e.g. Lipitor, Crestor, Pravachol) are widely used to lower cholesterol but occasionally cause worrisome side effects including muscle pain and weakness. A discovery shows that a genetic test could reveal high risk people who can avoid muscle problems by refraining from statin drug use.
The researchers, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), found a variation in the DNA code of a gene called SLC01B1 was responsible for 60% of the myopathy cases in people taking high dose statin therapy.
SLC01B1 regulates the uptake of statins into the liver, and the genetic variant seems to affect its function, causing higher levels of the statin to be present in the blood.
Only about one in 10,000 patients taking a standard dose of statins develops myopathy, and the risk remains very low even if they carry the rogue gene.
This one genetic variant does not explain all cases of muscle problems in response to statin drug use.
Many drugs have failed in advanced stage clinical trials because they caused dangerous and even deadly side effects in small but significant portions of drug trial participants. The continued decline in the costs of genetic testing will allow many of those side effects to be traced back to genetic variants found in some but not all people. So drugs which would otherwise fail clinical trials will instead emerge with restrictions on the genetic profiles of potential users.
The ability to identify who will have dangerous side effects from drug use will enable more drugs to reach the market. Also, research on genetic profiles and drug efficacy will also reveal genetic profiles that work better or worse with particular drugs. The matching of genetic profiles to drug choices will some day become commonplace.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2008 July 23 11:06 PM Biomedical Genetic Profile|