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Pharmacogenomics And Individualized Drug Therapy

Michel Eichelbaum, Magnus Ingelman-Sundberg, William E. Evans

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Pharmacogenetics deals with inherited differences in the response to drugs. The best-recognized examples are genetic polymorphisms of drug-metabolizing enzymes, which affect about 30% of all drugs. Loss of function of thiopurine S-methyltransferase (TPMT) results in severe and life-threatening hematopoietic toxicity if patients receive standard doses of mercaptopurine and azathioprine. Gene duplication of cytochrome P4502D6 (CYP2D6), which metabolizes many antidepressants, has been identified as a mechanism of poor response in the treatment of depression. There is also a growing list of genetic polymorphisms in drug targets that have been shown to influence drug response. A major limitation that has heretofore moderated the use of pharmacogenetic testing in the clinical setting is the lack of prospective clinical trials demonstrating that such testing can improve the benefit/risk ratio of drug therapy.