Coriell Life Sciences' Healthy Aging Illustration featuring a pharmacist and patients
September 23, 2022

Natural Symptoms of Aging or Medication Side Effects?

New Coriell Life Sciences study highlights how DNA-driven medication adjustments can improve health conditions commonly presumed to be signs of old age

PHILADELPHIA – September 27, 2022 – According to new research from Coriell Life Sciences—an international leader in precision medicine—fatigue, muscle pain, confusion, and other symptoms commonly attributed to the natural process of aging may, in some cases, actually be side effects of medications that are not appropriate for certain individuals based on their DNA.

The peer-reviewed research, published in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science, features a case study of a 71-year-old woman and her experience with a comprehensive medication management program enriched by pharmacogenomics (PGx), the science of how an individual’s DNA impacts his or her response to medication. The program, offered as part of her retirement benefit, enabled her to take a simple, at-home DNA test for medication safety and learn which medications are the safest and most effective for her, as well as those that she should avoid.

“The symptoms of biological aging can be remarkably similar to the side effects of frequently used medications, and providers often face a number of challenges in distinguishing between the two. New advances in personalized medicine, fueled by pharmacogenomics, can address those symptoms that are preventable or treatable,” explains senior author Jeffrey A. Shaman, PhD, MS, Chief Science Officer at Coriell Life Sciences.

“As our case report shows, ensuring that patients are on the right medications for them—based on their DNA as well as other important factors—can significantly reduce those symptoms that are, in fact, adverse drug reactions. This can be a game-changer for healthy aging,” he notes.

The Patient

The 71-year-old female patient was concerned about the sudden increase in medications prescribed after she had a stroke. She also had a history of fatigue, dizziness, leg pain, and low energy, which she didn’t report to her doctor because she felt these symptoms were “typical for old folks like me.”

The Intervention

The patient’s PGx analysis revealed two clinically significant genetic interactions associated with her medication regimen. A specially trained pharmacist called her to review her results and created a medication action plan with recommended changes subsequently communicated to the patient’s primary care provider. The physician adjusted the patient’s regimen based on the pharmacist’s recommendations.  

The Results

With the medication changes, the patient reported feeling more energetic and was able to attend her workout class more frequently. She also described being more well-rested and attributed it to the lack of leg pain while sleeping. Additionally, she decreased her out-of-pocket costs on prescription medications thanks to a lower-cost pharmacy identified by the pharmacist for one of her maintenance medications.

“Feeling healthier and being able to increase physical activity can lead to additional improvements to health and wellness, such as reductions in blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol. The ability to interact freely within her community also stimulates improved mental health and a sense of wellbeing,” notes Dr. Shaman. “Overall, this clinical case demonstrates how precision medicine and pharmacogenomics can make a real impact on patients’ quality of life, especially as they age.”


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