Dear Inova Family,
It’s been a while since I’ve shared a family letter with you. But last month’s happenings at the Inova Laboratory for Genomic Medicine reminded me of a story I’ve been meaning to share with you – and no, it’s not the ALS ice bucket challenge I accepted…! This is the story about Meg and CYP2D6 *1/*2.
Remember your first wisdom tooth encounter? I am saying first since many of you have probably surpassed your 20s by a few years like me (oh, who’s counting…?) and are now on to preparing your teenage sons and daughters for this fun endeavor. You might ask yourself what wisdom teeth have to do with Inova or with the Inova Laboratory for that matter. Genetics!
Well, if your wisdom teeth extractions were just slightly as complex as mine, then frozen peas, popsicles, yogurt AND codeine were on the daily consumption list. Meg, also an Inova team member, who had undergone the same surgery, disclaimed to us in a recent meeting that she might speak “funny” due to said procedure. What was most interesting to me was not the medical progress made (I hear nowadays general anesthesia is administered; I was awake for all of it!) but the fact that she checked her genetic fingerprint before she had her first appointment.
Apparently, Meg –being the curious person she is — had had her genome sequenced and was able to tell how well she would respond to a specific pain medication based on her genetic make-up. If you are like me, the last thing I would want to endure after a wisdom tooth surgery is pain. How incredible is it to know before you undergo a planned procedure whether or not your body is able to metabolize medication efficiently and, if not, to ask your doctor for an alternative? This science of combining pharmacology with genomics is called pharmacogenomics and we have started implementing it right here at Inova!
Together with Dr. John Deeken and under the leadership of Dr. John Niederhuber and Dr. Joe Vockley, Dr. Ramaswamy Iyer, ITMI’s Director for Clinical Molecular Genetics and Biobanking, set up Inova’s first Laboratory for Genomic Medicine which was initiated last month. Some of you may remember my talk about the Inova Laboratory for Genomic Medicine (ILGM) at ILI 33. I have to admit, the Next Generation technology used in this laboratory is quite impressive and I am still fascinated by the fact that one of these machines is capable of sequencing an entire human genome. If you have the time, I would suggest you take a look for yourself!
A few weeks ago, ITMI accomplished yet another milestone. On September 22, 2014, the team at the Inova Laboratory for Genomic Medicine received its first pharmacogenomic test sample! This makes us the first non-academic healthcare organization in the DC Metro region to successfully deploy clinical pharmacogenomic testing. Pharmacogenomics puts Inova at the forefront of Personalized Medicine and enables us to treat the right patient at the right time with the right drug and dosage.
While this first genetic test offered through ILGM is being pilot tested in the field of cardiology, ITMI is planning on additional genetic and genomic testing to be available late 2014 / early 2015 – including but not limited to Codeine Genotype testing.
So the next time you think about what the future of health holds, think about the story of Meg and imagine the possibilities pharmacogenomics holds for our patients.
God bless you,
PS – If you read my whole letter and know what CYP2D6*1/*2 means, email the answer to me at Knox.Singleton@inova.org. The first person to provide me with the right answer will receive a $50 gift card. However, I always like to hear from you regardless.