Health News

GCC’s Pharmacogenomics Program may help reduce side effects from chemotherapy for some patients

Written by Chris Mullooly

The Georgia Cancer Center Pharmacogenomics Program (CaPP) has launched its pharmacogenomics testing services for Georgia Cancer Center patients and oncologists. Pharmacogenomics employs genetic sequence alterations in drug metabolism genes to predict toxicity.  

These genetic tests are done to measure changes in genes that make proteins that metabolize common chemotherapy drugs. If a patient has a mutation in these genes, their metabolism will not handle the drug properly. This may cause the patient to become sick. 

The program is co-led by Dr. Katherine Saunders-Wohlfrom in Oncology Pharmacy and Dr. John W Henson in the Hereditary Cancer Clinic 

“These tests can help people avoid severe toxicity from chemotherapy. We want to optimize treatment for patients who need a lower dose when they have any gene mutation,” said Henson. 

John Henson in front of cancer center

Dr. John Henson, director of neuro-oncology at the Medical College of Georgia and the Georgia Cancer Center

The initial focus will be on patients with gastrointestinal cancers, in conjunction with Dr. Asha Nayak. Henson said this is where the biggest impact will come right away, and other service lines including breast cancer will benefit as more testing is done. 

“This is a valuable message to the community,” said Henson. “CaPP services will include testing support, report interpretation, document management, clinician consultation and patient and family consultation.” 

Henson also pointed out the help of Dr. Brandy D. Gunsolus in Clinical Laboratory Science was instrumental in developing the order process. 

About the author

Chris Mullooly

Media Relations Specialist at Augusta University Health