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Genetic Testing for Detoxification, Immune and Neurological Risk Factors in Environmental Illness

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Genetic Testing for Detoxification, Immune and Neurological Risk Factors in Environmental IllnessAs an environmental illness sufferer myself and someone who is in the final stages of clinical training to become a Nutritional Therapist having obtained a bachelor's degree in nutritional health, I have become interested in genetic testing.  

In the past genetic testing of any kind has been extremely expensive and has tradtitionally looked only for genes that identify hereditary diseases. Now however there are commercially available tests that many naturopathic doctors and other functional medicine-orientated health care practitioners are utilising to better help patients with environmental illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), as well as those with chronic unexplained ill-health but no diagnosis.

Such testing allows for the detection of single nucleotide polymorphyisms (SNPs - pronounced "snips"), small sections of genetic code that determine, for example, the efficiency with which an individual can neutralise and excrete toxins or synthesise neurotransmitters by affecting the functioning of various enzymes and other chemicals.

This information for the first time allows health care practitioners and patients to modify environmental factors such as diet and tailor treatment programs to take genetic predispositions and weaknesses into account. This could potentially improve the success of interventions as rather than using a "one size fits all" protocol for each patient or diagnosis, an individual can be treated as just that, a unique individual.

Most who are suffering, or who have suffered from, an environmental illness, whether ME/CFS, MCS, or gut issues such as Candida overgrowth will attest to the fact that treatments that have worked for others have not helped them, and vice versa. This is because these illnesses are not the result of a single inherited gene (or a few genes), or an infection, poisoning, or other environmental exposure - these illnesses are the result of a complex interplay between genetic susceptibilities and a variety of environmental exposures accrued during life (and even before birth).

It is my hope that profiling of SNPs controlling metabolic processes known to be dysfunctional in environmental illnesses (and those that become apparent in the future) will help many sufferers regain a better level of health more quickly than has been possible thus far.

Genova Diagnostics have pioneered commercial genetic testing with their Genovations tests. Those likely to be of most help in determining factors underlying environmental illnesses in individual sufferers are the:

- DetoxiGenomic Profile
- ImmunoGenomic Profile
- Comprehensive Inflammation Profile
- NeuroGenomic Profile

Some of these profiles overlap in the SNPs they look for so history, symptoms and previous test results will no doubt help to determine which would be the most appropriate in your particular situation.

I will be adding review pages for each of the above profiles with detailed descriptions of what they test for and what results might indicate and I will link to them from this blog post as I do so (you can also learn more at www.genovadiagnostics.com or ask your health care practitioner).

It would be great to hear from anyone who has had any of these tests and your experiences with them. Please leave comments below as always!


Genetic Testing for Detoxification, Immune and Neurological Risk Factors in Environmental IllnessDynamic Neural Retraining Program (DNRS)


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  • mcs genotyping

    Case-control study of genotypes in multiple chemical sensitivity: CYP2D6, NAT1, NAT2, PON1, PON2 and MTHFR
    Gail McKeown-Eyssen1,2,
    Cornelia Baines1,
    David EC Cole3,4,5,
    Nicole Riley1,
    Rachel F Tyndale6,7,
    Lynn Marshall8,9 and
    Vartouhi Jazmaji1
    +Author Affiliations
    Departments of 1Public Health Sciences and 2Nutritional Sciences, 3Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, 4Medicine, 5Pediatrics (Genetics), 7Pharmacology, University of Toronto
    6Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
    8Environmental Health Clinic Unit, Women's College Hospital Toronto
    9Ambulatory Care Centre, Sunnybrook and Women's College Health Sciences Centre, Toronto
    Correspondence: Gail E McKeown-Eyssen, 12 Queen's Park Cres.W, Toronto, ON, Canada. M5S 1A8. E-mail: gail.eyssen@utoronto.ca
    Results Comparing cases and controls, significant differences were found in genotype distributions for CYP2D6 (P = 0.02) and NAT2 (P = 0.03). Compared with the referent homozygous inactive (CYP2D6) or slow (NAT2) metabolizers, the odds for being CYP2D6 homozygous active (OR = 3.36,P = 0.01) and NAT2 rapid (OR = 4.14, P = 0.01) were significantly higher in cases than controls. The odds for being heterozygous for PON1-55 (OR = 2.05, P = 0.04) and PON1-192 (OR = 1.57, P = 0.04) were also significantly higher in cases.
    Conclusions A genetic predisposition for MCS may involve altered biotransformation of environmental chemicals. The CYP2D6 enzyme activates and inactivates toxins; the NAT2 enzyme bioactivates arylamines to protein-binding metabolites. A gene–gene interaction between CYP2D6 and NAT2 suggested that rapid metabolism for both enzymes may confer substantially elevated risk (OR = 18.7, P = 0.002). Our finding parallels others' observation of a link between PON1 heterozygosity and neurological symptoms in Gulf War syndrome. This first demonstration of genetic variation in drug-metabolizing enzymes in association with MCS requires replication. However, it suggests new research directions on genetically variable toxin pathways that might be important in MCS.

    I am not even pretending to understand all this but feel I need to start some place.

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