Personalized Medicine Offers New Hope to People With Depression

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New Genetic Assay from Genomind Can Guide Physicians in Choosing the Best Treatment for Their Patients

There is no way for a doctor to know in advance which antidepressant is the best one for his or her patient. This sets up a trial-and-error process of trying different medications, or combinations of medications, until the right one is found.

Depression has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. It affects approximately 19 million Americans or 9.5% of the population in any given one-year period. It is estimated that depression costs the United States $83 billion each year in lost productivity and increased medical expense.

A report issued last month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the rate of antidepressant use in the U.S. has increased nearly 400% since 1988 with about 11% of Americans aged 12 or older taking antidepressants.

Despite the increase in antidepressant use, studies have found that even the most popular antidepressants on the market work on only about half of the people who try them, and that as many as 30% of those who are clinically depressed aren't helped by any of the drugs they have taken.

Dr. Ronald I. Dozoretz, the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Genomind, believes that a new approach to treating mental illness is needed. "The goal of our company is to bring science into the clinic and patient setting. We believe that this can best be achieved through the adoption of personalized medicine into psychiatry by assisting physicians in the selection of appropriate medicine based on genetic information."

Dr. Jay Lombard, Chief Scientific Officer and Medical Director of Genomind and an Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University, says that the reason for the low response rate is not that the medications for depression and other mental disorders are ineffective. The problem is that there is little science to guide physicians in treating depressed patients.

"Studies demonstrate that antidepressants do work. There is no way for a doctor to know in advance which antidepressant is the best one for his or her patient. This sets up a trial-and-error process of trying different medications, or combinations of medications, until the right one is found. Patients and their families tell me this is one of the most frustrating aspects of treatment," Dr. Lombard says.

Antidepressant medications can take between 4 to 6 weeks to work. And it can take several weeks for the drug to be out of a person's system before a new one can be started. "You don't see this trial-and-error approach in cancer chemotherapy, where there is great effort to find exactly the right regimen for the right patient because consequences of the wrong treatment can be substantial."

Rather than the trial-and-error process we now have, Dr. Lombard believes the answer to better treatments for mental illness needs to be science-based. "We know that specific genetic variations modify the body’s response to various drugs and therapies. By identifying these variations, clinicians can design an optimized treatment plan likely to be most effective for that individual patient. This new development, known as personalized medicine, has the potential to increase effectiveness and lower costs in a wide range of medical specialties. Most research and clinical applications for biomarker testing to date have been applied to a limited range of markers, including cancer and anticoagulation, but not to mental health. The reason I was one of the co-founders of Genomind was to help this enormous, underserved population and specifically seeks to facilitate the adoption of personalized medicine to mental health."

The Genecept™ Assay is the first commercial product of Genomind, a company specializing in neuropsychiat-ric personalized medicine and was formed to facilitate the adoption of personalized medicine into psychiatry by providing genetic information to better understand the patient. It combines a proprietary panel of genetic tests and an analytical report to be used by clinicians. In addition, the Genecept Assay is coupled with Genomind psychopharmacologist assistance for clinicians, together with emerging education and information concerning neuropsychiatric disorders and pharmacogenomics. Genomind has unique intellectual property for this integrated approach and product.

Dr. Lombard cautions that these biomarker tests are not to be used for diagnosis, but rather as a tool for clinicians to more fully understand their patient’s genotype and assist in understanding potential responses to medications.

Dr. Lombard presented data from a new study at the 2011 Neuroscience Education Institute (NEI) Global Psychopharmacology Congress held November 10-13 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The presentation, entitled, “Does Pharmacogenetic Testing in Psychiatry Influence Clinician Treatment Selection and Confidence?” reported that 76% of early adopter clinicians say that the Genecept™ Assay influenced their treatment of patients, 67% say they elected to make changes to treatment, and 87% say the test increased their confidence in treatment decisions.

The authors of the study besides Dr. Lombard, were Roy Perlis, MD, Director, Center for Experimental Drugs and Diagnostics, Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry and Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School, and Bryce Kasuba, MA, MBA, and Rachel Dicker, PharmD of Genomind.

“We were pleased to be able to present our data at the NEI conference about how genetic testing can help clinicians be more confident about the treatment decisions they make,” said Dr. Lombard. “As opposed to trial-and-error, a personalized medicine approach has great promise for making better choices about treatment, and we anticipate seeing further data that will support the results from our early adopter program.”

ABOUT DR. RONALD I. DOZORETZ
Ronald I. Dozoretz, MD, is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Genomind. He is also the Founder and Chairman of ValueOptions, Inc., one of the nation’s leading behavioral health and wellness companies, serving over 22 million people.

Dr. Dozoretz has held numerous positions with healthcare-related professional organizations, including the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association and the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems. He previously served as a member of the Board of Advisors for RAND Health, and Board of Directors for the National Health Policy Council and for the National Foundation for Mental Health. He has advised the Newt Gingrich Center for Health Transformation.

ABOUT DR. LOMBARD
Dr. Lombard is a co-founder of Genomind with Ronald I. Dozoretz, MD, and is responsible for the company's scientific research and development, as well as medical leadership and clinical oversight. He is the former Chief of Neurology and head of the Stroke Department at Bronx Lebanon Hospital and is a nationally recognized leader in neuropsychiatry practice, research and thought leadership. Dr. Lombard is the former Director of the Brain Behavior Center in Rockland County, New York. Dr. Lombard is an Associate Professor of Neurology at Touro Medical College and former Director of Medical Education.

He is also the Clinical Instructor of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University. He also served as Chief of Neurology at Westchester Square Hospital in New York, and has been named an outstanding New York physician in various professional surveys.

Dr. Lombard is also regarded as a leading expert about the role of nutrition in brain function. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books, including Freedom from Disease, Balance Your Brain, and The Brain Wellness Plan. Dr. Lombard was one of the first researchers to propose that autism was linked to mitochondrial function. He has lectured extensively both nationally and internationally on the role of nutrition in brain function and has extensive experience as a medical advisor to the pharmaceutical and dietary supplement industries. Dr. Lombard is a graduate of Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine. He combined his psychiatry and neurology residency training at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, and is a board-certified neurologist.

ABOUT GENOMIND
Genomind is a company specializing in neuropsychiatric personalized medicine and was formed to facilitate the adoption of personalized medicine into psychiatry by providing genetic information to better understand the patient. Its Genecept™ Assay was made available for the study. Genomind was founded by Ronald I. Dozoretz, MD, a psychiatrist who has devoted his career to improving mental health and bringing innovations in science, delivery, and access to mental health patients. He also is founder of ValueOptions, one of the nation’s leading behavioral health and wellness companies. Dr Lombard, a neurologist, is co-founder of Genomind and is a critically acclaimed author and nationally recognized thought leader in neuropsychiatry practice and research. Learn more at http://www.genomind.com.

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David Levine
Genomind
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