A team of doctors and scientists has come up with a new, safer way to administer the common blood-thinning drug wayfarin that takes an individual patient’s genetic makeup and personal factors into consideration.
The new approach, developed at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, allows doctors to more accurately predict which patients will benefit most from the drug and which may suffer potentially dangerous complications.
The technique, detailed in the journal Thrombosis and Haemostasis, takes into account an individual’s genetic information as well as factors like weight, age and gender.
The research team -- comprised of physicians and scientists at 13 centers in the United States, Europe and Asia – based the new formula on 1,342 patients being treated with warfarin. Doctors took into account patients’ weight, medication usage, age, gender, and whether or not they carried two genes known to influence the way warfarin affects the body.
From that information, doctors identified 342 patients that they accurately predicted would benefit most from the drug.
"We discovered that the [new formula] is significantly more precise and accurate in identifying the best dose for an individual patient," said Dr. Benjamin Horne, lead author of the study.
Researchers said future studies may demonstrate the financial and clinical benefits of conducting genetic tests needed to perfect the dosing for individual patients.
"This is a very hopeful first step in that direction," said Horne. "I expect we'll see more studies in the future that show the real effect this tool will have on the lives of patients."
Every year, more than two million Americans begin taking warfarin after joint replacement surgery or who have heart rhythm disorders, stroke risk, blood clots or other conditions. Because patient response to the drug is so variable, it's difficult for physicians to determine safe, effective dosages. If patients get too much warfarin, they can develop uncontrolled bleeding; too little and they can suffer a stroke or a blood clot.