Personalized medicine: Genetic risk prediction of drug response

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Pharmacogenomics (PGx), a substantial component of “personalized medicine”, seeks to understand each individual's genetic composition to optimize drug therapy — maximizing beneficial drug response, while minimizing adverse drug reactions (ADRs). Drug responses are highly variable because innumerable factors contribute to ultimate phenotypic outcomes. Recent genome-wide PGx studies have provided some insight into genetic basis of variability in drug response. These can be grouped into three categories. [a] Monogenic (Mendelian) traits include early examples mostly of inherited disorders, and some severe (idiosyncratic) ADRs typically influenced by single rare coding variants. [b] Predominantly oligogenic traits represent variation largely influenced by a small number of major pharmacokinetic or pharmacodynamic genes. [c] Complex PGx traits resemble most multifactorial quantitative traits — influenced by numerous small-effect variants, together with epigenetic effects and environmental factors. Prediction of monogenic drug responses is relatively simple, involving detection of underlying mutations; due to rarity of these events and incomplete penetrance, however, prospective tests based on genotype will have high false-positive rates, plus pharmacoeconomics will require justification. Prediction of predominantly oligogenic traits is slowly improving. Although a substantial fraction of variation can be explained by limited numbers of large-effect genetic variants, uncertainty in successful predictions and overall cost-benefit ratios will make such tests elusive for everyday clinical use. Prediction of complex PGx traits is almost impossible in the foreseeable future. Genome-wide association studies of large cohorts will continue to discover relevant genetic variants; however, these small-effect variants, combined, explain only a small fraction of phenotypic variance — thus having limited predictive power and clinical utility.

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