Through its Assurex Health subsidiary, Myriad Genetics has said that it plans to partner with the US Department of Veterans Affairs to assess the company’s GeneSight genetic test in veterans diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD). 

It will be evaluated in the PRIME Care (PRecision Medicine in MEntal Health Care) study, a randomised clinical trial designed to show the effectiveness of providing veterans suffering from depression, and their providers, the results of pharmacogenomic testing for psychotropic medications via GeneSight. 

According to the VA, approximately 20% of the 2.6 million veterans who deployed to Iraq or Afhganisan as part of the nation’s War on terror returned with MDD or a related mental health condition. In addition, suicide rates for veterans are twice that of the general US population. 

The aim of the study is to discover whether patients and providers use geentic test results given to them at the time an antidepressant is to be initiated to treat MDD, and whether the use of the test results, in the end, improve patient outcomes. 

David Oslin, principal investigator and chief of behavioural health at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Centre in Philadelphia, explained, “Through this study, we hope to learn if there is association between the GeneSight test and more effective treatment for Veterans suffering from major depressive disorder, a condition which affects many veterans.”

GeneSight uses a proprietary algorithm to analyse 12 different genes to weigh their combined influence on patient response to more than 55 psychotropic medications. GeneSight testing is designed to guide clinician prescribing by placing each medication into one of three colour-coded categories “Use as Directed” in green, “Moderate Gene-Drug Interaction” in yellow, or “Significant Gene-Drug Interaction” in red. 

The test is based on combinatorial pharmacogenomics (CPGx), which is designed to analyse variations and combinations of a person’s genes along with FDA-approved medications for behavioural health conditions and severe pain. 

The test, which usually costs $330. Assurex claims on GeneSight’s website, “We promise that if your cost could be more than $330, we’ll call you before we process your test.”