Feb 25, 2019 • Longeviti

Pharmacogenomics Offers the Promise of Personalized Drugs and Medications

Pharmacogenomics looks at how a person’s DNA can influence their response to drugs or medications and what side effects are likely to occur in the individual’s body.

According to the Human Genome Project, 99.9% of the information in the estimated 20,000 human genes is identical from one person to the next. Small differences, however, remain in 0.1% of genes that are unique to each individual.

Usually, these differences have little impact, but they can influence an individual’s susceptibility to certain diseases, their reaction to various treatments and how they metabolize different medicines.

Pharmacogenomics: The Benefits

Understanding these individual differences makes possible:

  • drugs tailored for specific individuals or groups
  • powerful medicines targeting specific problems for maximum therapeutic effect with minimal damage to nearby healthy cells
  • safer drugs, the first time: informed by an individual’s genetic profile, prescribing physicians can decrease the likelihood of adverse reactions
  • more accurate dosing: knowledge of the patient’s genetic profile along with age and body weight, will enable physicians to decrease the likelihood of an overdose
  • improved vaccines: Vaccines made of genetic material could activate the immune system like existing vaccines but with reduced risk of infections.

Although the promise of pharmacogenomics appears great, technical limitations and ethical questions do remain.

Technical challenges:

  • complexity; multiple genes are likely to be involved in a given individual’s response to a drug
  • drug interactions and other environmental factors must be accounted for before arriving at conclusions regarding the relative importance of an individual’s genetic influence on how a drug is or is not working.

Ethical issues

Among the ethical concerns raises by individually targeted drug therapy is the requirement that all patients must undergo genetic testing.

  • Genetic testing presents privacy and security concerns
  • Testing is likely to be very expensive (at least for now)
  • Genetic tests are capable of revealing “unexpected” information about other family members
  • Accurate interpretation of pharmacogenomic test results requires medical professionals with both formal training in genetics and the communication skills necessary to effectively deliver the test results and their meaning to patients and their families

Personalized Medicine

The opportunities afforded personalized medicine by pharmacogenomics are expected to increase at a rapid pace much like those that have arisen from the use of genetic testing, more broadly.

Your Longeviti Health physician is ready to answer your questions about these medical breakthroughs and their potential to enhance your health and well being.

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