Lifelines NEXT participants get pharmacogenetic passport: How does your DNA affect medication?

This month, Lifelines NEXT participants will be offered their pharmacogenetic passport. This passport shows how their DNA affects medication.

The structure of certain genes in your DNA can influence how medication works. For example, your DNA can make you take up certain medication faster or slower. With this information, side effects due to overdosing or lack of effect due to underdosing can be prevented. 

Information via an app   

Participants receive their pharmacogenetic passport in a special app: "Gen en Geneesmiddel" (Genes and Medications). The app explains how their DNA-profile affects their expected medication sensitivity. They can download the profile and share it with their own healthcare provider to fine-tune their medication.   

Project leader Jackie Dekens: 'In the project, we are investigating how participants feel about receiving information about their hereditary medication sensitivity. We also want to know whether the information is clear and complete, so that we can tailor it even better to people's needs in the future. Our goal is that all citizens in the Netherlands can eventually get a pharmacogenetic passport and, with appropriate individual dosing, receive tailored care tailored to their needs.'   

'Incorrect dosing can have catastrophic consequences'   

In the future, the pharmacogenetic passport can also be requested by a healthcare provider when a patient does not respond well to prescribed drugs. Or when a patient is about to start medication. Jackie: 'In our oncology and transplant centre, we will also roll out the pharmacogenetic passport. For example, for the drug that is used in organ transplants to prevent organ rejection. The uptake of this drug varies a lot between individuals. Especially in these transplant patients, incorrect dosing can have catastrophic consequences. The passport can make all the difference here.' 

Passport increases self-management 

Good care is more than just good medical care. It is also care that is tailored to the patient's situation. 'With the pharmacogenetic passport, you as a patient can better co-determine the medical care you receive. This does not mean that you are responsible for the correct dosage of your medication. But, you have information about your own health which you can bring with you and discuss with yourhealthcare provider,' says Jackie.   

Training and a helpdesk for healthcare providers   

It is important that all healthcare providers in the region become familiar with the passport. That is why training and a helpdesk for caregivers are part of the project. Jackie: 'The big question is how the passport will change healthcare. The Lifelines participants and the large amount of data we already have from them allow us to map the short- and long-term impact on participants' health and on the care they receive.'  

The Gen and Medicine app was created together with Synappz Digital Healthcare, the Department of Genetics, the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Pharmacology and UMCG's Innovation Center

Together for more healthy years  

167,000 residents of the northern Netherlands have been sharing their health data in the Lifelines biobank since 2006. All kinds of health data and bodily materials, such as blood, urine and hair, are collected from participants. This enormous wealth of data enables us to realise new innovations, such as the pharmacogenetic passport. We do all this for the ultimate goal: More healthy years.