Will genetic testing help older adults avoid hospitalization?

Older adults taking multiple medications experience higher hospitalization rates. Columbia researchers have started uncovering genetic mutations that contribute to this increased risk for hospitalization.

Together with colleagues, Joseph Finkelstein, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Bioinformatics and Data Analytics in Oral Health at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, conducted a small pilot study to link genes associated with altered drug metabolism or lack of sensitivity to certain drugs and hospitalization.

The researchers first identified older adults with these genes who also took multiple medications. By comparing with a control group of seniors who did not possess the genes, they determined that patients with these genes had higher rates of hospitalization.

The researchers are planning a larger clinical trial to test these findings as well as imagining potential applications for such pharmacogenetic testing. In dentistry, for example, Finkelstein suggested that such testing could help clinicians develop a personalized approach to pain medication, giving treatment that is most effective and least risky for each patient. Learn more.

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