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Pharmacogenomics FAQ | NHGRI

Posted: May 2, 2019 at 7:48 pm

Much research is underway to understand how genomic information can be used to develop more personalized and cost-effective strategies for using drugs to improve human health.

In 2007, the FDA revised the label on the common blood-thinning drug warfarin (Coumadin) to explain that a person's genetic makeup might influence response to the drug. Some doctors have since begun using genetic information to adjust warfarin dosage. Still, more research is needed to conclusively determine whether warfarin dosing that includes genetic information is better than the current trial-and-error approach.

The FDA also is considering genetic testing for another blood-thinner, clopidogrel bisulfate (Plavix), used to prevent dangerous blood clots. Researchers have found that Plavix may not work well in people with a certain genetic variant.

Cancer is another very active area of pharmacogenomic research. Studies have found that the chemotherapy drugs, gefitinib (Iressa) and erlotinib (Tarceva), work much better in lung cancer patients whose tumors have a certain genetic change. On the other hand, research has shown that the chemotherapy drugs cetuximab (Erbitux) and panitumumab (Vecitibix) do not work very well in the 40 percent of colon cancer patients whose tumors have a particular genetic change.

Pharmacogenomics may also help to quickly identify the best drugs to treat people with certain mental health disorders. For example, while some patients with depression respond to the first drug they are given, many do not, and doctors have to try another drug. Because each drug takes weeks to take its full effect, patients' depression may grow worse during the time spent searching for a drug that helps.

Recently, researchers identified genetic variations that influence the response of depressed people to citalopram (Celexa), which belongs to a widely used class of antidepressant drugs called selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Clinical trials are now underway to learn whether genetic tests that predict SSRI response can improve patients' outcomes.

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Pharmacogenomics FAQ | NHGRI

Recommendation and review posted by G. Smith