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The Life of a Sample Inside The Genomind Lab

woman laboratory technician working with sample array in Genomind lab

We are at a truly unique point in medical history – doctors and patients now have more information and data available to them, creating a greater understanding of the human body than ever before. One groundbreaking evolution that has arisen is “pharmacogenetic testing,” which combines clinicians’ pharmacology knowledge with the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs.

Genomind’s pharmacogenetic test is a simple, pain-free genetic test performed on a cheek swab from the patient. This test can help your clinician determine what mental health treatment may work best for you.

But what does Genomind do with your cheek swab sample? Here is a look at where the swab goes – from your cheek, to the lab, and back to the clinician in the form of test results.

How does Genomind PGx testing work?

1. Sample collection

Genomind uses standard swabs that require only a small sample of your cells (known as a buccal sample). These cotton swabs are rubbed on the inside of your cheek in a non-invasive and painless way. Genomind collects two swabs from each patient, which provides the lab with a backup sample. The swabs are put into secure envelopes and should be sent to the Genomind lab right away for testing.

2. Accessioning

Upon arrival at Genomind, the swabs are sent to the Accessioning group. Accessioning ensures the sample arrived in good condition, and that all required paperwork was filled out and sent along with the sample. Once all paperwork is completed, the sample can be sent to the lab.

3. DNA isolation

Once your sample arrives at the lab, it is placed into a batch. All samples within a batch are processed together, starting with DNA isolation – the removal of the DNA from the cells. The lab places one of your two swabs into a tray with other control samples. A map of exactly where each sample swab is located is created and printed out. Your cells collected on the swabs are opened up by exposure to an enzyme. Proteins and other biological material are washed off, and the highly enriched DNA is collected on magnetic beads.

At this point, the swab itself is discarded as medical waste. Your backup sample swab is stored at room temperature in the event the lab needs it.

4. Testing

Next, Genomind conducts a number of tests on your DNA to examine variations that occur commonly among humans. Most tests are performed by a technique called real-time PCR, which examines each gene for the presence of a particular variant nucleotide at one particular DNA location. Genomind looks at 60 of these locations (also called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms or SNPs) for each patient sample. The presence of particular SNPs can help your clinician make more informed decisions about mental health treatments for you.

One example is the Serotonin Transporter (SLC6A4 or SERT) gene assay. This gene is tested by two reactions, and the results are documented by a digital photo.

5. Reporting

All the results from the above lab testing go to our Clinical Operations team to ensure they are translated into the correct clinical interpretation. Drug interaction information is also presented in your individual report (see a sample report here). Clinicians receive your results via fax or through a secured Genomind portal 3-5 business days after the sample is received at the lab in most cases.

Clinicians then gain access to Genomind’s expert clinical team of MDs, PhDs. and PharmDs to discuss your results. These precision medicine consults help ensure your clinician fully understands the report, and can formulate a personalized treatment plan.

Want your provider to access insights from Genomind’s testing and services for your treatment? Get started today.

About the author

Dr. David Robbins serves as the Senior Vice President of Molecular Pathology and the Laboratory Director, and is responsible for all aspects of laboratory operations at Genomind.

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