A private donor has awarded Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine a nearly $1.5 million grant to conduct a clinical study evaluating the clinical utility of pharmacogenomic testing in Kalamazoo’s community mental health population. The study is a collaboration between Kalamazoo Community Mental Health Substance Abuse Services (KCMHSAS), the Center for Clinical Research at Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed), Genemarkers, LLC, and Ferris State University College of Pharmacy. The primary purpose of the study is to test whether providing doctors with information about an individual’s ability to respond to specific drugs based on their genetic make-up lessens their need for health care. The study will begin enrolling patients in early April.

Pharmacogenomics (PGX) is one aspect of Precision Medicine (PM) that focuses on the “right drug for the right person at the right time.”  The test that will be conducted for the study determines how an individual’s genetic make-up affects certain drugs utilized to treat mental health issues in order to avoid adverse reactions and fine tune medication choices. This process of utilizing an individual’s genetic information to fine tune medications may assist in reducing adverse drug events and result in cost savings for prescription medications, emergency visits and hospitalizations. The study aligns with an initiative encouraged by the State of Michigan to combine care for mental health with physical health to benefit personal outcomes in patients with mental health concerns. “Using genetic testing to help guide our therapy is not new for us. What we don’t know is how much it really helps us keep patients healthy” says Dr. Mauli Verma, Psychiatrist with KCMH and Principal Investigator on the study. One of the major barriers to widespread adoption of PGX testing into routine clinical practice is the lack of studies that demonstrate clinical utility. This study is intended to contribute important information to address that gap in knowledge.

In this study, a comprehensive PGX panel will be utilized in order to align with the integration of physical and behavioral health objectives. Genemarkers, LLC receives the DNA samples of participating patients from KCMH, and performs the testing to analyze the mutations in genes that regulate an individual’s response to particular medications.

“Feedback from physicians has indicated that they find PGX testing useful in the treatment of their patients.” comments Dr. Anna Langerveld, President and CEO of Genemarkers, LLC, “This study will establish data-driven outcomes regarding clinical utility and cost management for an important patient population in our community.”

Testing results generated by Genemarkers, LLC are then analyzed and interpreted by local pharmacists from both OptiMed Pharmacy and WMed to produce personalized medicine recommendations for each patient. Results are shared with the patient’s health care provider who then determines what changes, if any, will take place in the patient’s prescription medications. After any necessary changes occur, patient’s health care costs over the next year will be compared to those of the year prior to determine if savings have occurred. “We are proud to be the grant recipient for this study, which is a collaborative effort to affect the health of our community. It aligns closely with our vision,” says WMed Founding Dean Hal Jenson, MD, MBA.

The WMed Center for Clinical Research was created to align with the medical school’s mission to educate and inspire the researchers of tomorrow, as well as to advance knowledge through innovation and discovery. Through collaboration with our community partners, Borgess Health and Bronson Healthcare, the Center for Clinical Research brings the latest and most advanced therapies to the region. Our team of physicians, nurses, and healthcare professionals has decades of clinical research experience in numerous therapeutic areas. Genemarkers, LLC is a leader in applying state-of-the-art technologies to enhance the utilization of genomics in health care, pharmaceutical research and consumer products. OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy is a privately-held healthcare entity with a longstanding history of pioneering novel patient care strategies in order to achieve optimal outcomes for patients and payers.