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FDA approves 23andMe to do genetic test on how our bodies metabolize some drugs

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MURRAY, Utah (ABC4 News) – The holidays are a good time to talk about family health and what may be in your family history to watch out for.

Genetics has long been a part of medicine and now the FDA has approved the genetic testing company 23andMe to test how our bodies react and metabolize certain drugs. 

Many doctors believe our DNA is a window into our health.

“It’s a rich resource for us to look for links of DNA and health,” said Dr. Jeffery Anderson with Intermountain Medical Center. 

Dr. Jeffrey Anderson is a distinguished clinical and research physician at Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.

‘We call it pharmacogenetics, the interaction between our genes and certain drugs. Certain genes specify enzymes that activate medicine and others that metabolize or make it inactive so these are important.”

The FDA approved 23andme pharmacogenetics testing for 33 variants in genes to find out how certain drugs influence your body. They test for drugs such as anti-depressants and blood thinners.

“The FDA has determined this pharmacogenetics test from 23andme is accurate and reliable. They’re always interested in safety and if this improves safety then they are willing to approve it.”

The test is sold directly to consumers so anyone can get it. But Dr. Anderson cautions the information is limited and patients shouldn’t change their habits from the results of the test. It should be something to bring up with your doctors.

“In general, it should be thought of as to do if you are interested, curious, for fun. Your genes don’t change throughout your lifetime and if in the future you need any of these handful of drugs then you can take that to your physician and say, what do you think?”

Dr. Anderson says that could be an important conversation that can lead doctors to conduct further screening. He believes our DNA and gene testing will become a larger part of our future health.  

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