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Akademiska first on gene analysis prediction of serious side effects from statins

Akademiska in Uppsala is the first Swedish hospital laboratory to analyze a certain gene variety that can predict an increased risk of severe muscle side effects during statin treatment.

Statins are a common group of colesterol lowering medicines, used by approximately one out of ten adults to treat increased blood lipids and to prevent cardiovascular diseases. Mostly, statins have a very good effect and none or mild side effects. However, some patients can get muscle side effects. The risk is higher when the patient is treated with a high dosage and have several other risk factors.

“The result of the analysis can hint if the patient has an increased risk for severe muscle side effects during the treatment with a high dosage of primarily simvastatin. In that case, the dosage can be lowered or another pharmaceutical can be chosen,” says Mia Wadelius, chief physician of clinical pharmacology at Akademiska sjukhuset, the Uppsala University Hospital.

In rare cases, the drugs can lead to a substantial fragmentation of muscle cells, which can cause acute renal failure. Through the pharmacogenetical analyze method it is possible to examine if the patient has a certain variety of the gene SLCO1B1 which codes for a transport protein. Patients with a double tendency of the gene variety will get higher levels of active medicine, which increases the risk of side effects.

“Pharmacogenetical analyses are still relatively unknown within healthcare but can become increasingly important to customize the choice and dosage of pharmaceuticals in the future,” comments Daniel Garwicz, doctor of medical science and specialist doctor of clinical chemistry.