January 3, 2006
Neil B. Sandson, MD
Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect the way people respond to certain medicines, including antidepressants, chemotherapy, drugs for asthma and heart disease, and others. It is now recognized that inherited differences in the metabolism and disposition of drugs, and genetic polymorphisms in the targets of drug therapy, can have an even greater influence than clinical variables on the efficacy and toxicity of medications.
The ultimate goal of pharmacogenomic research is to help tailor medicines to a patient’s unique genetic make-up, and it’s hailed by many as the alternative to "one size fits all" and "trial and error" prescribing.
Although still a relatively new medical discipline, the availability and application of information derived from pharmacogenomic-related clinical laboratory tests has so far afforded major advances and raised expectations for the concept of personalized therapeutics.