A healthcare device, that assesses whether patients are genetically predisposed to suffering adverse reactions to prescription drugs, is currently undergoing trials.

The Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Doctor (SNP Dr /’snip doctor’) is a portable technology that gives fast accurate results for specific DNA sequences that indicate how one is likely to respond to certain medication.

The SNP Dr analyses genetic variations found in DNA that make us respond differently to disease, bacteria, viruses, toxins or medication.

Specifically, the SNP Dr might detect genetic sequences linked with metabolism. A slow metabolism can cause medicine to stay in the body longer, causing adverse side effects, and a fast metabolism can process medication too quickly for it to have any effect.

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The NHS in the UK treats 250,000 patients annually, who are admitted to hospital due to adverse reactions to prescribed medication. A test to identify patients likely to have adverse effects from medicines such as anti depressants or drugs to lower cholesterol, could allow doctors to tailor dosages and drugs to the individual needs of each patient.

This device could also allow new drugs to reach patients in future. For instance, some cancer-fighting drugs are considered uneconomical because they only work for some people. If doctors could screen cancer patients to determine suitablility, then these drugs would become more cost effective to use.