Hand-held DNA testing device A novel device has been developed that has the ability to predict and determine how patients will react to a particular drug. This prototype health-care device is jointly developed by Imperial College London and DNA Electronics.

Together, they have developed this hand-held device, called the Single Nucleotide Polymorphism Doctor (SNP Dr) to determine if patients are genetically predisposed to experience an adverse reaction to certain medications. At present, various trials are been conducted to test the device’s efficiency.

This device yields precise, immediate results for specific DNA sequences, which predict the person’s reaction to a particular drug. Researchers are in the midst of evaluating the process of the SNP Dr to identify genetic sequences associated with metabolism. It is stated that a slow metabolism may prolong the drug stay in the body, which may result in various adverse effects, while a fast metabolism may process the drug too quick for it to have any effect on the body.

DNA is assessed when saliva swab samples are placed in a cartridge, which are later introduced to the silicon chip sensors within the device. It is said that the chip contains a copy of the fast or slow metabolic Single Neucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), genetic variations in DNA. If a match is found then the device displays the message on its console. Following which, the doctor can assess their patient in the GP surgery minus any lengthy unnecessary expenditure and treatment.

Principal investigator at Imperial, Chris Toumazou FRS, says that, “Nothing can replace the expert advice your GP gives you. However, the SNP Dr could provide another layer in the treatment process that could help GPs to personalize treatments according to the genetic requirements of each patient.”

It is estimated that annually, the NHS spends around £460 million for the treatment of innumerable patients hospitalized for adverse reactions to medications. Patients suffer from reactions like heart palpitations, dizziness, nausea, etc. Thus, they believe that this invention can be useful for the doctor to customize the dosage requirement for each patient individually, as per their prediction of the patient’s reaction to a particular drug.

This £1.2 million project is partly funded by the Government’s Technology and Strategy Board.