WSW: What Can Genetics Tells Up About Opioid Effectiveness And Addiction?

Apr 26, 2018

In this Nov. 8, 2017, file photo, Steph Gaspar, a volunteer outreach worker with The Hand Up Project, an addiction and homeless advocacy group, holds a used and blood-filled needle used for drug injection that she found while cleaning up a homeless encampment in Everett, Wash.
Credit Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

When some people take opioids it addresses their pain, and they have no trouble when it’s time to stop using them. But some people struggle to find the right pain relief, and others end up addicted. A new study being conducted in the Kalamazoo area is searching for the role genetics may play.

WMUK’s Gordon Evans spoke with Heidi Oberlin, Director of Integrated Health Services with Kalamazoo Community Mental and Substance Abuse Services, Dr. Anna Langerveld, founder and CEO of Kalamazoo firm Genemarkers and Chad Johnson, Clinical Research Coordinator for Genemarkers.

Langerveld says the test will examine how someone responds to a medication in order to improve treatment for chronic pain. She says they also hope to identify genetic markers associated with addiction risk.

Money for the study comes from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Oberlin says results of the study could influence public policy, such as whether test are covered by Medicaid.

Johnson’s job is to recruit 400 people to take part in the study. He says once people hear about the study and how it works they seem engaged and appreciative. Johnson says the study is important to him, because he was an addict and alcoholic for over 20 years. He says this fall will mark 10 years that he has been clean and sober. Johnson says the study has the potential to help countless numbers of people in the future.

Study organizers have until September 30 to get people enrolled and consent to the study. Ferris State University’s College of Pharmacy will examine the data.