Author Profile

Renée M. Ned

Affiliation: Health Scientist, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA

Recent Posts

Cascade Screening for Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH)

Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by abnormally high concentrations of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, which predisposes affected persons to premature coronary heart disease (CHD) and death. FH is one of the most common inherited disorders and the most common one known to cause premature CHD in people of European descent. The vast majority of people with FH have inherited a single mutation from one parent in either the LDL receptor (LDLR), apolipoprotein B (APOB), or proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) genes. Despite their greatly elevated risk of coronary heart disease, most individuals with FH remain undiagnosed, untreated, or inadequately treated.

Cascade screening is a mechanism for identifying people at risk for a genetic condition by a process of systematic family tracing. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the United Kingdom recommends cascade screening of close biological relatives of people with a clinical diagnosis of FH in order to effectively identify additional FH patients. The ultimate goal of this testing is to reduce morbidity and mortality from heart disease in persons with FH through early diagnosis and effective disease management. The goal of this article is to outline the available evidence on the clinical validity and utility of cascade screening for FH, while emphasizing the availability, usefulness, and recommendation for including DNA testing (if the disease-causing mutation has been identified).

Fecal DNA testing for Colorectal Cancer Screening: the ColoSure™ test

·

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Screening has been shown to be effective in reducing colorectal cancer incidence and mortality. Colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and fecal occult blood tests are all recommended screening tests that have widespread availability. Nevertheless, many people do not receive the evidence-based recommended screening for colorectal cancer. Additional stool-based methods have been developed that offer more options for colorectal cancer screening, including a variety of fecal DNA tests. The only fecal DNA test that is currently available commercially in the United States is ColoSure(TM), which is marketed as a non-invasive test that detects an epigenetic marker (methylated vimentin) associated with colorectal cancer and pre-cancerous adenomas. We examined the published literature on the analytic validity, clinical validity, and clinical utility of ColoSure and we briefly summarized the current colorectal cancer screening guidelines regarding fecal DNA testing. We also addressed the public health implications of the test and contextual issues surrounding the integration of fecal DNA testing into current colorectal cancer screening strategies. The primary goal was to provide a basic overview of ColoSure and identify gaps in knowledge and evidence that affect the recommendation and adoption of the test in colorectal cancer screening strategies.

Genetic Testing for CYP450 Polymorphisms to Predict Response to Clopidogrel: current evidence and test availability

The anti-platelet agent clopidogrel bisulfate (sold under the trade name Plavix in the United States) is a widely prescribed medication for the prevention of blood clots in patients with acute coronary syndrome, in those who have suffered other cardiovascular disease-related events such as ischemic stroke, and in patients who are undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention. Response to clopidogrel varies substantially due to genetic and acquired factors. Patients who experience recurrent cardiovascular ischemic or thrombotic events while taking clopidogrel are typically described as non-responsive or resistant.

The drug’s oxidation is mainly dependent on the cytochrome P450 enzyme 2C19 (CYP2C19). Patients with certain genetic variants in CYP2C19 have been found to have lower levels of the active metabolite, less platelet inhibition, and greater risk of major adverse cardiovascular events such as heart attack, stroke, and death. Testing for CYP2C19 polymorphisms may identify patients who will not respond adequately to the standard clopidogrel regimen and who should, consequently, be given an alternate treatment strategy. This article outlines the evidence concerning pharmacogenetic testing for clopidogrel response, including data on clinical validity and clinical utility, and summarizes the currently available tests marketed for this purpose.