The cost of asthma drugs can be prohibitive, and it’s a constant struggle to find affordable treatments for those with the disease, according to genetic testing costs.
Genetic testing costs can add up to millions of pounds each year.
“We’ve found that a lot of people who have asthma can’t afford the genetic testing,” says Natalie Riddell, a professor of health law at Durham University.
The National Health Service is planning to phase out genetic testing in the coming years, but the NHS is still using the £2,000 fee for genetic testing as a guide. “
I think it’s very likely that they can’t get the genetic tests because of the cost.”
The National Health Service is planning to phase out genetic testing in the coming years, but the NHS is still using the £2,000 fee for genetic testing as a guide.
“There are many people with asthma who are having difficulty getting the tests,” says Prof Ridde.
“And there’s not enough testing out there for everyone, because it’s such a big problem.”
What is genetic testing?
Genetic testing can be used to find genetic mutations that could be inherited by people with severe asthma.
Some of these mutations can have significant impact on a person’s life.
Researchers have identified some of these genetic mutations which could affect the effectiveness of some treatments, such as anti-histamines.
One of the most common genetic mutations linked to asthma is called RAS.
This is a mutation that occurs in the RAS gene, but it doesn’t affect people with moderate asthma.
“The other genetic mutation that can be inherited is a variant called HLA-DQ2,” says Professor Riddett.
“This variant affects the expression of some molecules in the lungs, so it’s something that’s very relevant for asthma.”
These two mutations are very common in people with extreme asthma.
People with milder asthma have a variant of the ROS gene, which can only be inherited through maternal inheritance.
People with moderate to severe asthma have one of the HLA variant genes, which affects the production of certain proteins.
If one of these variants is inherited through a maternal line, it’s thought that this genetic mutation will affect the development of the lungs and can affect asthma sufferers.
What are the risks of genetic testing, and can I get it?
“There’s a risk of some genetic testing coming back negative, and this could happen at a later stage in life,” says Dr Amy White, chief executive of the National Asthma Trust (NATS).
“And so if you’re in a situation where you are testing positive and you’re looking at having a severe asthma attack, you could end up having a genetic test that comes back negative.”
If that happens, you might not know it until you have a flare-up.
So if you don’t know whether you have the mutation, or you’re not sure whether you’re allergic, you need to make sure you have it checked.
“The tests are generally quite accurate.
If you have severe asthma and you don’s test positive, you may need a biopsy to find out whether there’s any underlying disease.”
There are some very good tests that are available in the NHS, but you need expensive tests.
Do you need genetic testing for asthma?
“Genetic screening is very expensive, so a lot more people need to be tested for genetic disorders,” says Joanna White, who is a genetic counsellor at the NATS.
“You might not have any symptoms of asthma, and if you do have symptoms, it can be difficult to see whether it’s the genetic problem.”
“If you are looking at testing positive for genetic problems, you can test positive for it and get the test for free, but I would encourage people to have a good test, because otherwise you can get genetic tests for a very different genetic problem,” she adds.
The NHS plans to phase-out genetic testing by 2025.
Are there any tests that can detect genetic mutations?
There are tests that help you to make an informed decision about genetic testing.
Professor Riddells advice is to avoid genetic testing if you are allergic to anything.
You might be able to use a gene test to confirm that you’re genetically different to someone else.
There’s also a test called a C-Reactive protein, which measures the level of the enzyme responsible for the production and breakdown of reactive oxygen species (ROS).
It can detect if a person has a genetic mutation and if this mutation is present in people who also have asthma.
“You might test positive and not know if you have this mutation,” says Michelle Covington, who runs the gene test service for the Nats.
“It’s important to do a bioprosthetic test and get a blood test and test it again.
It’s also important to have regular checks to make certain that you are not testing positive.”
What should I know before I get genetic testing to