Clinical trial of weight loss using genetics-determined diet and lifestyle

3 October 2012

San Diego-based Pathway Genomics Corporation has announced a clinical trial with the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System (VASDHS) that will investigate if weight loss can be improved by using genetic analysis to determine the most suitable individual diet and exercise regime.

Launched this summer, researchers at VASDHS have begun a prospective randomized clinical trial of Pathway Fit, the company’s premier saliva-based nutrigenetic test. The trial is focused on the genetic associations of weight loss and weight regain in veterans enrolled in MOVE!, a national weight management program designed by the VA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NCP).

“The trial aims to determine if veterans can lose more weight by linking genetic changes with evidence-based lifestyle suggestions as part of Pathway Fit,” said Dr. Karen Herbst, the trial’s lead investigator and staff physician in the endocrinology division of VASDHS. “Veterans will learn what diet best matches their genetic-based phenotypes and metabolism, what kind of eating behaviours they may have, and the genetic changes that provide information on how their bodies respond to exercise. The overall goal is to help veterans modify their behaviour in order to achieve a superior outcome.”

The trial comes at a time when an estimated 72.5 million Americans suffer from obesity, and approximately 70 percent of U.S. veterans are overweight or obese, many with co-morbidities, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If the trial is successful, Dr. Herbst and her colleagues would like to expand the study to additional VA medical centers across the United States.

“We are pleased to be collaborating with the VA in this effort to serve our nation’s veterans and help them achieve or maintain optimum health and wellness,” said Dr. Michael Nova, Pathway’s chief medical officer. “This alignment can provide a model of the vital role genetic information can play in behavior change and personalized medicine.”

Positive results

Pathway Genomics collaborated with the California Schools Voluntary Employee Benefits Association (VEBA) in a study that evaluated the weight loss results of 179 overweight California school employees. After six months, the data showed that overweight employees provided with results of their Pathway Fit genetic test had significant weight loss success — some lost up to 40 pounds — when compared to employees who had tried to lose weight, under similar conditions, without the genetic information. Pathway Fit is now available to all adult VEBA members, of which approximately 40,000 have weight problems and could benefit from the test.


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