Dr. Andrew Levy from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa makes the case for a new pharmacogenomic blood test that can be used to identify diabetes patients at highest risk for cardiovascular disease.

Presently, medical costs of treating cardiovascular complications of diabetes are more than $100 billion per year in the US.

Dr. Levy and colleagues have discovered a new risk factor — the haptoglobin (Hp) 2-2 gene — that identifies people with diabetes who are up to 5 times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease. The problem is that Hp 2-2 diabetic patients experience greater oxidative stress. By comparison, patients with the Hp 1-1 gene are better able to minimize oxidative stress.

The Hp gene type has no impact on cardiovascular risk in people without diabetes.

The CAM connection.
Of potential greater importance are the results of 2 studies this year where giving vitamin E to Hp 2-2 diabetic patients resulted in greater protection from heart attack, stroke, and death due to cardiovascular causes.

These results are at odds with earlier vitamin E studies, which reported neutral or negative effects in diabetics. However, reanalysis of one or these studies indicates that the Hp 2-2 diabetic patients benefited from vitamin E even if the entire population of study patients did not.

Best of all, Dr. Levy concludes, the Hp 2-2 test only needs to be preformed once following diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

The potential public health and economic benefits from this pharmacogenomic test in patents with diabetes are enormous.

The test should be available later this year.

9/4/08 19:16 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.