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What is pharmacogenomics?

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Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs. This relatively new field combines pharmacology (the science of drugs) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions) to develop effective, safe medications and doses that will be tailored to a person’s genetic makeup.

Many drugs that are currently available are “one size fits all,” but they don’t work the same way for everyone. It can be difficult to predict who will benefit from a medication, who will not respond at all, and who will experience negative side effects (called adverse drug reactions). Adverse drug reactions are a significant cause of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States. With the knowledge gained from the Human Genome Project, researchers are learning how inherited differences in genes affect the body’s response to medications. These genetic differences will be used to predict whether a medication will be effective for a particular person and to help prevent adverse drug reactions.

The field of pharmacogenomics is still in its infancy. Its use is currently quite limited, but new approaches are under study in clinical trials. In the future, pharmacogenomics will allow the development of tailored drugs to treat a wide range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and asthma.

For more information about pharmacogenomics

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences offers a list of Frequently Asked Questions about PharmacogenomicsThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference..

A list of Frequently Asked Questions about PharmacogenomicsThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference. is also offered by the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Additional information about pharmacogenetics is available from the Centre for Genetics EducationThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference. as well as Genes In LifeThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference..

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s exhibit ‘Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code’ discusses the utility of pharmacogenomicsThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference..

The Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah offers an interactive introduction to pharmacogenomicsThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference.. Another interactive tutorialThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference. is available from the PHG Foundation.

The American Medical Association explains what pharmacogenomics is and provides a list of practical applicationsThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference..

The National Genetics and Genomics Education Centre of the National Health Service (UK) provides information about predicting the effects of drugsThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference. based on a person’s genes.

PharmGKBThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference. is a pharmacogenomics resource sponsored by the National Institutes of Health that collects information on human genetic variation and drug responses.

A list of clinical trials involving pharmacogenomicsThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference. is available from ClinicalTrials.gov, a service of the National Institutes of Health.


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Published: December 16, 2014