Thursday, February 22, 2018
Doctor’s Perspective
Using genetics to select the right medication

By Dr. Anthony Policastro
I have a grandson who is a freshman in college and I have a granddaughter who will be going to college next year. I have told both of them that the future is in pharmacogenomics. Pharmacogenomics is a long term that talks about using our genetic makeup to select the right medications for illnesses. It will allow us to pick something that works best with the fewest side effects. This field will explode over the next 10 to 20 years. There are already television commercials urging people to take certain medications for cancer if they have the right genetic makeup. A new study shows that medications alone might not be the only thing that genomics holds in the future. The study looked at a gene known as MeXis. Most genes produce proteins. The proteins then have various actions in the body. The MeXis gene has long been known to not produce any proteins, so the feeling was that it was not important. However, the new study found the MeXis makes a different kind of molecule that is not a protein. These molecules act on a protein in the body. They regulate what it does. The protein is used by the body to remove cholesterol from arteries. If we could figure out how to turn on the MeXis gene, we could find another way of treating high cholesterol. It would not involve medications and would likely result in less side effects. That is the good news. The bad news is that it is not likely to happy very soon. The initial study was conducted in mice. It will be awhile before we figure out how to do the same thing in humans. However, the most encouraging thing about the study was not stimulating the MeXis gene. It was finding out that there are genes that we take for granted that might have unknown actions. As we find more of these genes, we will be able to make use of them. Some might need to be stimulated. That is the case of the MeXis gene. Some might need to be suppressed. Many of our genes are based upon evolution and natural selection over time. Many people do not realize that being a sickle cell carrier is protective against malaria. Thus, over the thousands of years of evolution, people with the sickle cell gene were protected in areas with malaria. The result is that the gene is much more common in those areas. People without the sickle cell gene died from malaria. People with the sickle cell gene survived to pass it on to their descendants. One gene for sickle cell disease was protective. Two genes (one on each chromosome) caused sickle cell disease. Genomics has come a long way, however, it still has a long way to go. In the future, treatment will be a lot more complex because of it.

Diabetes Education Program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a four-session diabetes educational program, The Diabetes Connection, on March 7, 14, 21 and 28 from 5 to 7 p.m. Pre-registration is required. As a person with diabetes, Nanticoke can help teach you the self-care skills needed to keep you on track. This four-session program includes weekly education sessions in a group setting.One family member or significant other is also welcome to attend. The cost of the program may be reimbursable by insurance. To register or for more information about this course, contact Nanticokes Diabetes Education Department at 629-6611, ext. 2288. To learn more about diabetes services at Nanticoke, visit

Free weight loss seminars Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery will host free weight loss seminars on Monday, March 5 at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 10 at 10:30 a.m. at the Nanticoke Training Center located within the Miller Building at 121 S. Front St., Seaford. These seminars are designed to provide education to individuals considering weight loss surgery to help them make informed decisions on whether surgery is an appropriate option. The weight loss seminars will consist of educational presentations by Dr. Tarek Waked to inform individuals about the many benefits of weight loss surgery. Patients and their spouses, family members or friends are welcome to attend. Registration is required. To register, call 536-5395. To learn more about services provided by Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery, visit

Alzheimers programs offered The Caregiver Resource Center at the Modern Maturity Center located at 1121 Forrest Ave., Dover, is offering a series of educational programs presented by Jamie Magee, coordinator for the Alzheimers Association. The following free programs are being offered: Wednesday, March 7, 1011:30 a.m. - Memory Loss, Dementia and Alzheimers The Basics. Register by March 2. Wednesday, April 11, 10-11:30 a.m. - Effective Communication Strategies. Register by April 6. Wednesday, May 16, 1011:30 a.m. - Understanding and Responding to Dementia Related Behaviors. Register by May 11. To register, call 800-272-3900 or email Sharon Jarnette at

Bariatric Support Groups Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery hosts free bariatric support groups three times a month at the Nanticoke Training Center in Seaford. These support groups provide education and support to patients before and after their bariatric weight loss surgery and are open to the public. Support group meetings consist of guest speakers and presentations to provide information about nutrition, supplements, exercise and behavior modifications. Patients and their spouses, family members or friends are welcome to attend. Registration is not required. The general bariatric support group is open to all bariatric patients before and after their surgery and is held the first Tuesday of each month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. The post-op bariatric support group is designed for post-op bariatric patients and is held on the second Tuesday of each month from 6 to 7 p.m. The nutrition-focused bariatric support group is designed to provide nutritional support to bariatric patients and is held the fourth Monday of each month from 6 to 7 p.m. For more information about these support groups or other services provided by Nanticoke Weight Loss & General Surgery, visit or call 536-5395.

Safe Sitter Class Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will host a Safe Sitter¨ class on Saturday, March 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Nursing Conference Room. These classes are open to pre-teens and teenagers between 11 and 13 years of age who are interested in learning child care essentials and safety. The Safe Sitter¨ course is designed to train pre-teens and teenagers how to be safe baby/child sitters. Components include infant/child development and care, safety, injury prevention, first aid, accident management, emergency protocol, rescue breathing and choking management. The lessons are filled with fun activities and role-playing exercises. The cost for the Safe Sitter¨ class is $35 per student, which includes the class and all materials needed. Pre-registration is required. To register or for more information, contact Nanticokes maternal child health clinical educator at 629-6611, ext. 2540.

Women Supporting Women upcoming events 17th Annual Pink Ribbon Bingo March 8 at the Salisbury Moose Lodge. $20/person in advance or $25/person at the door. Prizes will be Thirty-One and Pampered Chef with 50/50, raffles, food and baked good sale. Doors open at 5 p.m. and games start at 6:30 p.m. Must be 18 to enter. Proceeds to benefit WSW. Tickets can be purchased online at or at the WSW office.

Childbirth classes offered Nanticoke Memorial Hospital hosts childbirth classes on Thursdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in the Ground Floor Conference Room. The class will meet for five weeks four weeks related to childbirth education and the fifth week will be a breastfeeding class. The following sessions will be held in 2018: Feb. 22, March 1, 8, 15, 22; March 29, April 5, 12, 19, 26; May 16, 24, 31, June 7, 14; July 5, 12, 19, 26, Aug. 2; Aug. 30, Sept. 6, 13, 20, 27; Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25, Nov. 1 *Nov. 13, 20, 27, Dec. 4, 11 (*Tuesdays) The maternity education classes are designed to offer information, counseling, support, and hands-on experience to help prepare for a new family member. They will cover pregnancy in general, information to prepare the expectant mother for labor and delivery, and will include a tour of Nanticokes Mother & Baby Care Center. A refresher course is also available for those who have previously taken childbirth classes. The refresher class covers breathing techniques, signs, symptoms, and stages of labor, birthing options, and a tour of Nanticokes Mother & Baby Care Center. The cost of the childbirth course is $50, and the cost for the refresher course is $25. Mothers are encouraged to bring their partner or support person for all courses. Pre-registration is required for either class. To register or for more information, contact Nanticokes Maternal Child Health Clinical Educator at 629-6611, ext. 2540. To learn more about womens health services provided by Nanticoke, visit

Statewide Walk for Autism is April 14 Autism Delaware has announced that the statewide Walk for Autism starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 14, at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes. The Wilmington walk takes place April 21 in Fox Point State Park. The event coordinators hope to attract 3,000 walkers and to raise $250,000 for Autism Delawares programs and services. A celebration as well as a fundraiser, Autism Delawares Walk for Autism also runs a fun zone where children can enjoy hands-on crafts. And next door to the fun zone, the newest and latest in products and services are on display especially for individuals and families affected by autism. Bring a picnic lunch or purchase food from food trucks that will be open for business. For more information, to register, or to sponsor the Walk for Autism, visit To volunteer, call 302-224-6020, or send an email to