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Computer Chip Predicts Your Response to Medicine Posted: March 3rd, 2010

By Kathryn Vercillo

Kathryn Vercillo is a full time freelance writer/blogger with nearly 10 years of writing experience. She has authored two books and contributed to many other print publications.

Have you ever been prescribed a medication that didn't work for you? A new technology may provide a solution. Computer chips, called gene microarrays, are able to replicate a patient's DNA to determine how the body may react to medication.

Challenges Doctors Face When Prescribing Medication

When doctors prescribe medication, they must often predict which drugs may work best for their patients. Sometimes physicians try several different combinations of medication before they are able to relieve a patient's ailment without causing uncomfortable side effects.

Such an approach can be difficult for patients because it may take time to determine the best mix of medications. While waiting to determine how well they may respond to prescription drugs, patients sometimes have to endure the pain or discomfort associated with their conditions for a prolonged period of time.

The current method used by doctors may also mean that health care and health insurance dollars are spent on expensive drugs that don't have the best efficacy for a specific patient. It also means that the patient may experience side effects that may be as bad, or worse, than the condition requiring prescription drugs in the first place.

A Possible Solution

New gene microarrays could streamline the process by finding the best medications faster. Gene microarrays are computer chips that replicate a patient's DNA. The computer chip tests how well you would metabolize a certain drug, which is an indicator of whether or not you may experience side effects. The gene microarrays can also help predict how effective the medication may be for you. This new technology has the potential to save time and money by determining the type of side effects the patient may experience.

How the New Technology Works

The gene microarray test works by the doctor drawing blood from the patient and inserting the blood sample into the computer chip. The gene microarray then tests for genetic mutations to analyze how the body digests, absorbs and circulates the medication. Drugs that are likely to be ineffective, or have too many side effects, can be ruled out and patients are prescribed the medications that best fit their needs.

Currently, the computer chips are capable of testing about 25% of all medications on the market, including a large percentage of antipsychotic medications.

Cost of Microarray Testing

At this time, gene microarray testing may cost patients $600 to $1,000. Although the test may seem costly, it can be a money-saving option for patients who have difficulty finding the best medications for their needs. This test may also be covered by health insurance in the future because it saves time and money for both the doctor and patient.

Kathryn Vercillo