Genetics Research Center and the Institute of Living Receive $1.25 Million Grant to Study Treatment of Depression

December 12, 2013 By Tina Varona

The Genetics Research Center and the Institute of Living (IOL) at Hartford Hospital are at the forefront of using genetic testing results to determine whether such tests can improve the treatment of depression.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has just awarded the Center and the Institute a $1.25 million grant to examine the impact of using genetic testing for the selection of medication for psychiatric inpatients on their length of stay in the hospital and their rates of readmission.

“This award truly catapults Hartford Hospital to the national stage of personalized medicine in clinical practice. This is the first AHRQ grant to be awarded to Hartford Hospital setting a new precedent,” said Harold Schwartz, M.D., Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Institute of Living at Hartford Hospital.

Treatment Background:

Most medicines used to treat depression are cleared from the body mainly by the liver. A gene called CYP2D6 helps determine how well the liver clears some, but not all drugs used to treat depression.

Differences in the CYP2D6 gene from person to person are common in both the healthy population and in hospitalized patients. Changes in the CYP2D6 gene affect how well the patient’s liver can clear drugs from the body. Some changes help the liver clear the drugs faster, which could render the drug ineffective, while others decrease or completely stop the liver’s ability to clear certain drugs, meaning that a drug may stay in the body longer, which cold predispose to side effects. Laboratory testing for a person’s CYP2D6 gene type can help researchers determine how fast the liver clears some drugs used to treat depression.

In this study, researchers are investigating whether prescribing drugs according to a patient’s CYP2D6 gene type makes a difference in treatment, length of hospital stay, and hospital readmissions. That data is being compared to patients for whom CYP2D6 gene type is used to help determine their clinical treatment, to patients treated without using the CYP2D6 gene type information.

“This research will assess whether knowing the CYP2D6 gene type leads to more effective treatment. If it does, this result might help decide which depression drugs are best for a patient,” said Gualberto Ruano, M.D., Principal Investigator, Director, Genetics Research Center, Hartford Hospital.

“We are hopeful that our continued research and our findings from this study will have a clinically meaningful impact on future methods to select the most appropriate and effective treatment for people with depression,” added Carolyn Hoban, DSc., VP Research, Hartford Hospital.

The study coincides with the publication of the fundamental manuscript and letter to the editor of Biomarkers in Medicine establishing the feasibility of the Program, Length of Psychiatric Hospitalization Correlated with CYP2D6 Functional Status in Inpatients with Major Depressive Disorder.

** “The project described was supported by Grant Number R01 HS022304 01. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.”

Contact: Tina Varona
Media Relations Manager