Friday, October 31, 2008

Mitochondrial DNA Tests—What Else Can They Reveal?

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing is now commonly being used to trace female ancestry. MtDNA is passed only from a mother to her children so it gives us the unique ability to glance back in time at our female lineage; some people even use this test to confirm a suspected common female ancestor such as a great-great grandmother.

When genetic scientists examine mtDNA; they compare two portions called hypervariable region I and II to an agreed upon reference set called the Cambridge Reference Sequence. Everyone's DNA is almost identical in this portion; however, the differences are used to place you in one of 33 major “haplogroups” popularly called "clans." If you are in the same clan, you share a common female ancestor. There have been different maternal lines in existence in human
lines in existence in human history, history, but these are the only lines that can be found in existence today.

Typically a genetic testing lab will send you a report that shows how your DNA varies from the Cambridge Reference Sequence, your haplogroup designation, information about where and when your haplogroup originated, and where it exists today. Genelex offers the most in-depth haplogroup report available, but there is more information you can find if you are willing to dig a little deeper. For instance, if you happen to be in one of the haplogroups of Eurasion origins, you can read The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes who tells a story of what life was probably like for the original women who started the Eurasian lines.

Interested in finding your genetic cousins? If you go to; you can enter in your mtDNA results to find genetic matches; people with an identical mtDNA signature are related to you in the more recent past. If you are interested in finding people in the same haplogroup, you can do a halpogroup search to find other members of your “clan.” Keep in mind that for haplogroup matches, your common ancestor may have walked the earth over 10,000 years ago or more.

To find out more about Ancestry DNA Testing visit:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Nearly one third of breast cancer patients prescribed tamoxifen currently fail treatment. According to the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR), this failure rate can be reduced to less than ten percent, saving 20,000 lives each year, by having patients take a simple DNA test and properly managing their medications.

Recent research shows that tamoxifen has to be activated into endoxifen by the liver enzyme CYP2D6. Endoxifen is the medicine that prevents the recurrence of estrogen receptive positive cancers.

About ten percent of breast cancer patients prescribed tamoxifen are missing CYP2D6 because of their DNA, and will fail tamoxifen treatment. “Patients want to know that tamoxifen will definitely benefit them, before committing to take it for five years. DNA testing offers them the reassurance that their tamoxifen is effective," stated Dr. Michael Benjamin, oncologist and editor of the medical news website,

Breast cancer patients can also fail tamoxifen treatment by unknowingly taking other prescription drugs, herbals preparations, or over-the-counter medicines that interfere with CYP2D6 activity. Many classes of drugs, including anti-depressants, prevent CYP2D6 from converting tamoxifen into endoxifen. That’s why Genelex includes password-protected access to their GeneMedRx software program with each test. Patients enter all of the drugs they take and produce a report to learn if any of the drugs they take might be defeating their endoxifen treatment.

“Patients and physicians need to be aware that DNA testing for tamoxifen effectiveness is available now. There is typically a 10-year gap between research and application in the clinical setting. We need to shorten that time when people’s lives are at stake- as they are with tamoxifen,” stated Genelex founder and CEO Howard Coleman.

For more information about the CYP2D6 DNA test, visit Genelex at Genelex donates a portion of all tests purchased to the National Foundation for Cancer Research.

Monday, October 27, 2008

DNA Testing Advances Aid In Depression Treatment

Almost one third of Americans currently take antidepressant medications and many have had problems finding the right drug and dose. This is not surprising to people that study genetics - research shows that of all the clinical factors such as age, sex, weight, general health and liver function that alter a patient's response to drugs, genetic factors are the most important.

Psychological disorders are complex and the number of treatments available in the United States continues to grow, but virtually all medications used to treat depression are metabolized by two enzymes in the liver: CYP2D6 and CYP2C19. Your genes are the main factor determining the level of these enzymes- if you have too much of the enzyme, you process the medication too quickly, too little of the enzyme and the medication builds up in your bloodstream potentially causing adverse reactions or side effects. Without knowing your genetics, your physician may need to go through months of trial-and-error prescribing to find the right drug and dose for you.
Testing of CYP2D6 and CYP2C19 has been available for several years to help your healthcare provider optimize your response to antidepressants, but Genelex has just recently made another test available that can help maximize treatment success. The new test helps determine a person’s response to serotonin-selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which are among the most commonly prescribed antidepressants. This class of medications includes citalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine and sertraline among others, and often is prescribed for depression or anxiety. As a class of medications, the SSRIs have shown successful responses for many people—but not in everyone.
There are a number of reasons why some people may respond better than others to this class of drugs. Each person’s unique genetic make-up affects how their body absorbs, modifies and ultimately excretes any medication taken, but genetics also play a role in how a drug will exert its effect within the body. Researchers have found that mutations in some genes specifically change how effectively SSRIs may act.
SSRIs are known to exert their effect, in part, by blocking the serotonin transporter. This transporter is found in regions of the brain where antidepressants are active. The transporter causes less efficient signaling in the brain by reducing the amount of active serotonin—an important chemical associated with mood response. When SSRIs block the transporter, more serotonin is available for signaling which can improve mood.
Researchers are studying the serotonin transporter (5HTT) gene to further understand its role in SSRI efficacy. In a DNA region (known as the ‘promoter’), very near the 5HTT gene, a mutation has been found that affects how well persons respond to SSRIs. This mutation results in a shortened form (allele) of the transporter gene.
The short allele is associated with less response to SSRIs. Patients who have the short allele are less likely to respond to SSRIs or may take longer to respond. This effect is often found in those who carry two copies of the short allele, but can also occur in those who have one short and one normal (long) allele. About 40% of the North American population carries the short allele.
Genelex Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Teresa Aulinskas stated, "I am excited to give medical providers another tool that will help them better target therapy in the treatment of depression when finding the right drug and dose as early as possible is so critical." Many people with depression get better with standard treatments — medications and psychotherapy — and return to enjoying a happy, fulfilling life. However, for a significant percentage of people, depression treatment just doesn't work, and they continue to feel sad and hopeless, disinterested in activities, and perhaps even suicidal. DNA testing may offer the key to avoiding this in many cases.
To help healthcare providers utilize DNA Drug Safety testing to cater dosage and drug selection to a patient’s individual needs, Genelex includes a free 90-day subscription to our personalized medication management software, GeneMedRx, with each DNA Drug Safety test order. This online tool helps healthcare providers predict drug-drug and drug-gene interactions so medication regimens can personalized.

To learn more about the use of DNA Testing in the treatment of depression, visit

Friday, October 24, 2008

DNA Testing Helps Unwed Military Parents Get Benefits

Genelex has been assisting military personnel since our inception in 1987. We offer a 10% military discount on all of our DNA testing services to any person with a current military i.d. Although this discount is typically used for paternity testing, it also applies to our DNA Drug Safety, ancestry, nutritional genetic, and predictive genetic testing.

If the child of a military father is born when the parents are not married, DNA testing is a conclusive way to prove paternity so the child can get military benefits. In addition, establishing paternity provides children with equal rights and access to the benefits of Social Security, health insurance, survivor benefits, and inheritance rights.
Genelex DNA Testing Consultants are experts in handling all of the steps in the testing process; even in complex situations in which one or both parents are stationed overseas or one of the parents is no longer living. With over 20 years of experience meeting the unique DNA testing needs of military families, Genelex is the trusted lab for people in all branches of military service.