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When you take a medicine, your body needs a way to handle it. One way your body does this is by using enzymes to break down (metabolize) the medicine. A family of enzymes called cytochrome P450 breaks down certain medicines. The enzymes make the medicine more or less active, depending on the specific medicine.
Cytochrome P450 2D6, known as CYP2D6, enzymes break down several commonly used medicines. These include codeine, tramadol, and some other pain relievers; ondansetron; some medicines to treat depression or other mental health disorder; and beta blockers (used for heart conditions and high blood pressure).
Each person differs from another at the DNA level. Genes are segments of DNA that act as a set of instructions and tell the body how to work. The CYP2D6 gene is a section of DNA that instructs how well CYP2D6 enzymes will work.
The study of how genes like CYP2D6 affect the way your body interacts with medicines is called pharmacogenomics. Differences in your DNA that make up the CYP2D6 gene can affect how well you are able to break down certain medicines.
If you break down a medicine too fast or too slow, the medicine may not work as well, or you may have more side effects.
A pharmacogenomic test looks for differences that can help your medical team know how well your CYP2D6 enzyme will work. The test results can help your doctor and pharmacist choose the correct type or dose of medicine to give you.
The results of your CYP2D6 test will place you into one of four groups:
Scientists continue to find new information about which medicines are affected by gene test results. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions about your medicines, side effects, or pharmacogenomic testing.
If you have questions about pharmacogenomic testing done at St. Jude, you can email the Clinical Pharmacogenomics Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewed: September 2022