There has been a lot of talk recently about pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine. Pharmaco-genomics—the way an individual responds to a medication—includes both positive and negative reactions, and how individual genetic differences affect drug response. It also examines the inherited variations in genes that dictate drug response and explores how these variations can be used to predict what type of response a patient will have to a particular drug, whether that is a good response, a bad response, or no response at all.1
In the race to catalog all the different gene variations, variations known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs, or “snips”) are used diagnostically to predict a patient’s response to a drug. In the future, pharmaceutical companies could use pharmacogenomics to predict which patients will have a negative response to a particular drug in clinical trials and, therefore, not study the medication in those patients.2 In essence, it would be a way to “streamline” therapy to those in most need of it or for those who likely will have a positive response with minimal adverse events.
By pre-screening patients, clinical trials could be smaller, faster, and less costly. The capability to pre-assess whether a patient will benefit from a particular medication before it is prescribed is a major advantage when it comes to medication use. It also might increase a prescriber’s confidence before starting a patient on a medication, and it might improve a patient’s confidence in taking the medication, which could increase medication adherence and lead to better patient outcomes.