What is pharmacogenomics?
Pharmacogenomics is the study of genetic variations that influence individual response to drugs. Knowing whether a patient carries any of these genetic variations can help prescribers individualize drug therapy, decrease the chance for adverse drug events, and increase the effectiveness of drugs.
Pharmacogenomics combines traditional pharmaceutical sciences such as biochemistry with with an understanding of common DNA variations in the human genome. The most common variations in the human genome are called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). There is estimated to be approximately 11 million SNPs in the human population, with an average of one every 1,300 base pairs. An individual’s response to a drug is often linked to these common DNA variations. In a similar manner, susceptibility to certain diseases is also influenced by common DNA variations. Currently, much of the research in the field of pharmacogenomics is focused on genes encoding either metabolic enzymes that can alter a drug’s activity or defective structural proteins that result in increased susceptibility to disease.