Gene testing is being used to optimise dosage of Warfarin

Across the UK, gene testing is being used to effectively prescribe doses of Warfarin, a commonly used drug to manage blood clotting. Warfarin saves lives, and staff at the University of Liverpool recognise this. The gene testing initiative involves using a very simple test to examine specific genes that can influence the response the body has to the blood-thinning drug.


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Issues with dosage

It’s the first time in the UK that genotyping by frontline staff is being used to monitor the dosages for patients. By getting the correct dosage first time, this cuts down the need for more appointments. This allows a contract research organization to herald a new era in personalised medicine prescription.

Warfarin is primarily used for the treatment of blood clots. It has also been used in the treatment of patients with atrial fibrillation, which is a fluttering of the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat. An irregular heartbeat can lead to strokes, and as strokes are most common in the aged population, it makes sense that eight per cent of those over 80 years old are taking Warfarin.

Genetic testing

The main issue with Warfarin is if the dosage prescribed is incorrect, the risk of a blood clot that the Warfarin is working against, actually increases. Patients usually need a few appointments before they get the correct dosage. The new research for gene testing for Warfarin follows a randomised control trial in Liverpool, Sweden and Newcastle. Associations such as organise clinical trials that can genotype patients to calculate the correct dosage.

The trials that were performed were proved as accurate and now, clinics like University Hospital Liverpool where the trial took place, are genotyping patients with atrial fibrillation before prescribing the drug, which cuts out a lot of the appointments and ultimately costs the hospital less money. According to recent reports by NHS England, cutting-edge advances can tailor treatments to an individual’s genetic makeup, giving them the right medicine for them to respond to sooner.

The old way of prescribing Warfarin was very hit and miss and with the birth of new clinical trials, Warfarin can be prescribed in a much smoother, more accurate way. Genotyping can and will save more lives, as with the right medicines being prescribed in the right amounts, patients can be kept stable for longer.

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