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Pharmacogenomics Benefits

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Emma Lloyd•updated: 7/28/2010

Have you heard of pharmacogenomics? If not, read on to learn more about the uses and benefits of pharmacogenomics.

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    Pharmacogenomics studies how an individual person's genetic inheritance affects how their body responds to drugs. This field holds promise that some day drugs and medications will be tailor-made to the individual and adapted to their individual genetic makeup. This is thought to create the ability to make personalized drugs with higher safety and efficacy. Many pharmacogenomics benefits are still be studied, but scientists have already developed several techniques to take advantage of this new science.

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    Uses of Pharmacogenomics

    There are currently a few tests already available that can assist in predicting whether individual cancer patients are likely to have a bad reaction or favorable response to certain medications. Certain other diseases can also benefit from these tests. Some medications have also been studied, such as proton pump inhibitors, warfarin, antidepressants, and anticoagulants.

    Some patients break down medications too quickly which does not allow the medications to fully work, while other patients do not break down the medications quickly enough, resulting in the medications building up in the body and causing the patient to experience severe side effects. A test that examines the cytochrome P450 group of enzymes, a group of enzymes responsible for metabolizing, referred to as the CYP450 test can help with this. This test is used to determine if an individual has these genetic variations. This allows doctors to make a more informed decision when deciding which medication, or medications, to prescribe a patient. This results in an increased chance that the treatment will be successful and a decreased chance that the patient will experience side effects and other adverse events.

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    Benefits of Pharmacogenomics

    There are several benefits of pharmacogenomics. These include:

    • More powerful medications: With this ability, pharmaceutical companies will have the ability to create drugs based on enzymes, RNA molecules, and proteins associated with diseases and genes.
    • More accurate methods of determining a drugs proper dose: The dosages of drugs will be based on an individual's genetics and not their weight or age, two factors which don't always lead to accurate dosage.
    • Drugs that are safer and better the first time: Trial and error will be eliminated and patients will get the right drug the first time.
    • Advanced screening for disease: Once a patient knows their genetic code they will be able to make the proper environmental and lifestyle changes to help avoid, or at least alleviate the severity, of a genetic disease.
    • Improvements in discovering and approving drugs: Pharmaceutical companies will be able to easily use genome targets to discover potential therapies.
    • Decrease in health care's overall cost: Reductions in the number of failed drug trials, how long patients take a medication, how disease effects the body, adverse drug reactions, how long it takes a drug to get approved, how many medications a patient takes before finding the right one, and an increase in possible drug target range will help to decrease health care costs.
    • Better vaccines: Vaccines made up of genetic material will have all of the benefits of current vaccines without the current risks.
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    Resources

    Mayo Clinic. (2010). Pharmacogenomics: When Medicine Gets Personal. Retrieved on July 23, 2010 from the Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/personalized-medicine/CA00078

    Human Genome Project Information. (2008). Pharmacogenomics. Retrieved on July 23, 2010 from the Human Genome Project Information: http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/medicine/pharma.shtml