Signature Care: Embracing Personalized Genomic Medicine

Wednesday, May 1, 2019
By Alexis Kessenich

Concierge medicine is just one of the many ways healthcare is being tailored to meet its clients’ needs. Through Duke Signature Care, patients can spend more time with their physician, develop a stronger doctor-patient bond, receive care in a comfortable environment, and now, have access to pharmacogenetic testing through a new partnership led by Deepak Voora, M.D., associate professor of medicine and colleagues in the Duke Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine (CAGPM). 

Pharmacogenetics (PGx) analyzes the inherited genetic differences that may impact how an individual responds to drugs, both in terms of therapeutic and adverse effects. 

This initiative will begin by offering PGx testing to about 100 Signature Care patients. Participants will pay between $200 - $300 for a pharmacogenetic test that will analyze a panel of genes that handle metabolism and transport of commonly prescribed medications for mental health, pain and cardiometabolic diseases. 

Because each person has a different genetic makeup, everyone responds to medications differently. By analyzing a patient’s genes, physicians can see how certain medicines will interact with that patient, allowing them to make better informed decisions on the amount of the medication to prescribe or if a different medication would be more appropriate. 

Testing simply requires patients to swab their cheeks. The clinical team at Signature Care will send samples to a lab that will report the results to the patients’ healthcare providers to store in their electronic medical records. Physicians can then refer to these results as needed for future prescribing. 

“The hope is to eventually expand this practice to the remaining patients in the practice,” Voora said, “and create a pipeline or template for other Duke patients and providers that would be interested in doing this testing.”

Voora and his team, including a pharmacist and genetic counselor, will host a kickoff event on May 1 at 5:30 P.M. at the Washington Duke Inn to share the benefits of personalized genomic medicine with Signature Care patients. 

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