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Genetic Testing

Can genetic testing prevent methadone deaths?

By November 20, 2015February 8th, 2019No Comments

New research has identified genetic subtypes in people that govern how methadone – often used to combat the growing epidemic of heroin addiction – is metabolized. Once available to patients prescribed the drug, this new test could prevent some of the 5,000 methadone overdose deaths each year.

“A person’s genetic makeup influences how an enzyme in the liver metabolizes methadone,” said principal investigator Evan D. Kharasch, a professor of anesthesiology, biochemistry, and molecular biophysics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “This explains why some people can have very high levels of methadone in their blood—high enough to trigger a potential overdose—even if they have received the same dose of the drug as others who are not affected the same way.”

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