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Genetic Testing: A Way to Provide Personalized Medicine for Patients at Princeton House

Jul 1, 2014

Genetic Testing: A Way to Provide Personalized Medicine for Patients at Princeton House

Princeton House Behavioral Health (Princeton House) is using genetic testing to provide patients with effective, highly personalized therapies for many difficult-to-treat mental health conditions.

Genetic testing is used to identify biological markers that can help predict how a patient will respond to certain psychiatric medications and therapies. This  approach, known as personalized medicine, helps doctors design the most appropriate treatment plan for each individual.

New Hope, Personalized Results
Personalized medicine offers another option for patients who have had limited success with prior therapies – patients sometimes referred to as “treatment resistant.” A personalized approach can also help avoid side effects of certain drugs such as weight gain, says David Cordon, MD, Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Princeton House.

“We’re taking into account individual differences among patients rather than just treating a large group of patients with the same condition the same way,” says
Dr. Cordon, who is board certified in adult and geriatric psychiatry. “This is very relevant in the field of psychiatry because many of the common illnesses we treat have a large genetic component.”

Genetic information can enhance the treatment of common psychiatric conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

How Personalized Medicine Works
Patients submit a saliva sample that is tested in a lab for biomarkers related to metabolism and brain chemistry. The patient’s clinician uses these test results to aid in the development of a personalized treatment plan.

For example, one of the biomarkers looks at how quickly a person’s body will break down anti-depressant medication. Based on this information, the patient’s doctor can prescribe a higher or lower dose to ensure an appropriate amount of medication remains in the body at all times.

“These genetic biomarkers may give us more information about which medications might be particularly helpful for each patient,” Dr. Cordon says. “Our hope is we can find effective treatments and limit side effects, even for patients who have been treatment resistant multiple times in the past.”

Princeton House began offering personalized medicine services at its outpatient Mount Lucas site, located in Princeton, earlier this year and has been rolling it out to other sites. Even though this genetic testing is a fairly new practice, it is covered by most insurance plans. However, not all patients will be tested as the need depends on a number of factors including past treatments, Dr. Cordon says.

Princeton House Behavioral Health offers a full range of inpatient, partial hospital, and intensive outpatient services for children, adolescents, and adults who are experiencing significant mental health problems, struggling with substance abuse or both.

For information about Princeton House Behavioral Health’s outpatient services, please call 1.888.437.1610 or visit www.princetonhouse.org.