US-based non-profit health organisation Inova Health System has started offering MediMap, a pharmacogenomic (PGx) test, to all babies born in the new Inova Women’s Hospital.

PGx combines pharmacology and genomics. It is claimed that Inova is the only health system in the US that offers the PGx test to newborns as part of its standard package of care.

Over the last few years, most medicines have been developed and prescribed to patients in a ‘one size fits all’ approach. PGx testing is designed to inform physicians about a child’s genetic makeup to determine the best medication and dosage.

It also helps in personalising prescriptions to most effectively treat and manage illnesses in the future.

Inova Translational Medicine Institute division of Medical Genomics chief Benjamin Solomon said: "Inova is offering this test to newborns at no additional cost because having access to this useful information before the patient needs a medication will significantly impact care.

"We all hope that our children will not get sick, but if they do, having access ahead of time to information about what medications are most likely to work is important, and could be life-saving.

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"The MediMap test is truly the future of health and the next step in integrating knowledge from genomic research into patient care, prevention and wellness."

"Unfortunately, today we often find out through trial and error."

In the PGx test, a painless cheek swab will be used to obtain a sample of DNA from the baby’s mouth after delivery, which will then be tested for specific genetic changes that may influence a child’s response to certain medications.

MediMap will look at genetic changes that influence the response to certain commonly prescribed medications in categories such as pain, cardiovascular, immunologic, psychotropic and anti-cancer.

Inova CEO Knox Singleton said: "Inova is a global leader in developing and applying personalised health.

"The MediMap test is truly the future of health and the next step in integrating knowledge from genomic research into patient care, prevention and wellness.

"It can provide life-changing information to help physicians prescribe the right medicine, at the right time, in the right dose, for the right person."

Inova has a network of hospitals, outpatient services and facilities, primary and specialty care practices, as well as health and wellness initiatives.