Genetic testing to choose the right antidepressant – AssureRx Health in the news

Claremont Creek Ventures portfolio company AssureRx Health continues to receive good press. Below are some excerpts from a recent FoxNews article published June 19, 2012. Read the full article at

Genetic testing to choose the right antidepressant

By Dr. Keith Ablow.

Psychiatrists often try two or more medications in a patient suffering with major depression before settling on the one that seems to work best for that individual. Sometimes, after several are tried and abandoned, two (or even three) are used in combination.

Medication selection is part of the art of psychiatry, but, now, testing is available that promises to make it more of a science. A company called AssureRx Health now offers what it calls GeneSightRx—“pharmacogenomic” laboratory testing that helps identify which antidepressants are a good match for a person’s genetic makeup, and which are not so good a match.

Sometimes, the testing reveals why three or four antidepressants haven’t worked for a patient, while pointing in the direction of one that might.

This is extremely good news, because psychiatrists have several different kinds of antidepressants to choose from—some which increase the activity of the brain chemical messenger serotonin, some which increase the activity of the brain chemical messenger norepinephrine and some which increase both. And they do so by varying mechanisms, requiring the activity of different enzymes.

The technology behind GeneSightRx actually determines which genetic variants—in terms of the enzymes that are activated by antidepressants—a person possesses.


Different antidepressants affect the enzymes very differently. Hence, the testing can literally predict with some accuracy which antidepressants are likely to work in a particular person, and which are likely to cause the fewest side effects.



GeneSightRx also predicts which ADHD medications, antipsychotics and pain medications patients are likely to respond to and from which they are likely to experience fewer side effects.


Pharmacogenomic testing like this—far from taking decision-making away from psychiatrists—actually equips psychiatrists to make more informed decisions. It certainly could help anyone who has been treated with one antidepressant that didn’t work (and now needs to try another). And for anyone who has tried a few, it would seem pretty smart to take the test before going on a third.

I have already started using these tests in my practice, and find them to be extremely helpful.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow can be reached at


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