The Evolution and Clinical Impact of Diagnostic Testing - Episode 14

How Could Genetic Testing Have the Most Impact?

Indicating that cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death, David C. Collymore, MD, MBA, feels that genetic testing bears the potential to generate a significant impact on outcomes, “especially in individuals that die from sudden heart attacks.”

Drawing a comparison between overweight individuals who seem to have a normally functioning cardiovascular system over their life time and seemingly “normal” individuals who unexpectedly die of the disease, Dr Collymore asked “Is there a genetic predisposition as to why one succumbs to cardiovascular disease while the other one does not?”

Another disease area, in his opinion, that could gain from genetic testing is diabetes. “I manage a network of practices in the Bronx. Diabetes is probably the most prevalent condition in our patient population.” There definitely is a significant genetic predisposition to diabetes, Dr Collymore said, and genetic testing could make a difference. “There are so many different diabetes medications on the market. If genomic testing could guide the provider to identify the medication that would be most effective, that would be a tremendous breakthrough in healthcare.” We are nearing a point where we can see the effect of research in that particular area, he explained.

Dr Collymore continued, “In our practices, we also service a large number of individuals that suffer from addiction. Several studies have shown that certain individuals have a genetic predisposition to be addicted to certain substances. One case that stands out was a lady who had a dental procedure, who was prescribed an opiate pain medication by her dentist. She began to take it and found herself addicted to prescription drugs within a year. I remember speaking with her and she said ‘I didn’t ask for this. I only went in to have a simple extraction and I don’t know what happened.’” Dr Collymore thinks that the woman’s genetic composition might have an important role to play. “If we could display a genetic predisposition to addiction through genetic testing and then tailor our pain prescribing habits for that individual, that could also have a tremendous effect,” he concluded.