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Pharmacogenomics

Related Terms

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Background

  • Pharmacogenomics is the study of how an individual's genes affect his or her response to drugs. It is a combination of the study of pharmacology (drugs) and genetics. Different patients can have a variety of responses to a single drug. When given a specific drug, for example, some patients may experience improvement in disease symptoms, while others may have no effects or may even experience mild to severe side effects. Causes of these different responses may be due to a number of factors, including age, diet, race, and the presence of disease. Genetic differences may also play a role in how patients are affected by drugs.
  • Genes are present in all human body cells. They are composed of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). The genes provide instructions for making proteins, which are responsible for the structure and function of cells, tissues, and organs. While any two individuals share about 99.9% of the same genes, differences do exist (except in identical twins). These differences are called gene variants, or polymorphisms. They are caused by small changes in the DNA code of the genes.
  • Changes in certain genes cause changes in proteins, which may be more or less active or even nonfunctional, compared to proteins of a different variant. Gene variants that affect proteins that interact with drugs may cause individuals to respond differently to certain drugs. For example, the drug may have decreased activity in the body or increased activity in the body, potentially placing an individual at risk for side effects.
  • Initially, individual gene variants were identified by the way a person responded to a drug. This is termed "pharmacogenetics." Researchers are now examining the entire genetic composition of an individual, which includes thousands of different genes, to evaluate how many different gene variants can affect a patient's response to a drug. This field of study is called "pharmacogenomics" (genomic refers to the entire genetic material of a person). Sometimes, these two words are used interchangeably.
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Methods

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Research

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Implications

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Limitations

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Safety

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Future Research

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.