Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs. This field combines pharmacology (the science of drugs) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions) to develop effective, safe medications that can be prescribed based on 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.
Researchers are learning how variants 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 which dose will help prevent adverse drug reactions. Conditions that affect a person’s response to certain drugs include clopidogrel resistance, warfarin sensitivity, warfarin resistance, malignant hyperthermia, Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis, and thiopurine S-methyltransferase deficiency.
The field of pharmacogenomics is growing, and new approaches are under study in clinical trials. In the future, pharmacogenomics will be used to develop tailored drugs to treat a wide range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer disease, cancer, and asthma.