Genetic screening can reduce incidence of carbamazepine reaction

A POTENTIALLY fatal hypersensitivity reaction to the anti-epileptic carbamazepine can be prevented with genetic screening, researchers say.

A study shows screening for allele HLA-B*1502 in Han Chinese can dramatically reduce the incidence of Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis (SJS-TEN).

Austin Health neurologist Dr Saul Mullen said the Taiwanese study was proof screening could virtually prevent the conditions in Han Chinese, and probably others of South-East Asian descent (Malays, Indians and Thais).

“Practitioners in Asia are routinely screening before prescribing. This cheap, easy blood test will probably be available in Australia soon, and it will be important to consider performing it before prescribing carbamazepine in people of this ethnic background,” he said.

A separate study showed a related allele, HLA-A*3101, was found in up to 5% of Northern Europeans and in 42% of SJS-TEN cases but 4% of