New Sanford Chip test analyzes patients’ genetics

July 18, 2018

The first thing to know about Sanford’s new Chip test is that it doesn’t involve a physical chip – computer or otherwise.

Instead, the test is named for the technology it’s based on – a bead chip array for testing multiple things at the same time.

In this case, the test is a genetic screen that looks primarily at how patients metabolize certain medications as well as their predisposition to certain diseases.

It became available to patients in May.

“We want to identify people who are at risk for diseases that may not be discovered early enough and to help them find correct medications. The whole goal of this is to improve clinical outcomes,” said Dr. Cassie Hajek, director of clinical services at Sanford Imagenetics.

“Because of the variety of findings available, in this test, we wanted to make sure people taking it have a physician to help guide their care depending on the results. If someone wants to come get the testing done, he or she first must make an appointment with a Sanford physician.”

The Sanford Chip looks at genetic changes that might predispose someone to breast or ovarian cancer, for instance.

“Identifying a predisposition to disease can help the patient and their physician make a plan,” Hajek said. “This test is a screen, so it is important for patients with a personal or family history concerning for a genetic condition to meet with a genetic counselor and consider more extensive testing.”

The test also analyzes medications such as Plavix, which is used for patients with a stent in the heart to reduce blood clots.

“Not everyone responds the same way to this medication, and this test can alert us to who will or won’t benefit the most from taking it,” Hajek said. “If someone doesn’t respond well, we can start with a different medication. That saves treatment time for our patients and helps improve their outcomes and reduce medical complications.”

While Sanford has offered pharmaceutical testing based on genomics before, the Sanford Chip is new because of the disease-risk component.

“DNA is extracted from the blood, placed on a rectangular glass slide – the chip– and then run through the testing equipment. The chip is then discarded. Think of the chip as the spot where the DNA sits so it can be examined,” Hajek said.

The test is $49 out of pocket, and blood can be drawn at any Sanford lab. It takes 10 to 12 weeks for results, she said. Patients’ data is then stored in their medical record, and the process is integrated with the My Sanford Chart portal.

“If a patient has a positive finding, they are seen by a genetic counselor. In addition, our pharmacy team reviews the pharmacogenetic testing and provides guidance to the patient’s primary care doctor,” Hajek said.

“The whole team works together for the patient to make a plan for their health. The results are always available in the medical record, so even if a patient is not currently taking a medication this test looks for but is prescribed one later, the message will be in their chart to alert the prescribing physician if it is not a good fit.”

At some point, additional findings and technology might advance to where a next-generation test is available, she added.

“Right now, it’s not cost-effective to do whole genome sequencing for patients. The conditions we look for are based on recommendations from the American College of Medical Genetics,” she said. “These are conditions that are actionable – we want to not only identify issues but help patients do something about it to live longer, healthier lives.”

New Sanford Chip test analyzes patients’ genetics

The new Sanford Chip test is a genetic screen that looks primarily at how patients metabolize certain medications as well as their predisposition to certain diseases.

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