Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect a person’s
response to drugs. This relatively new field combines pharmacology (the science of
drugs) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions) to develop
effective, safe medications and doses that will be tailored to a person’s
genetic makeup. The field of pharmacogenomics is still in its infancy. Its use
is currently quite limited, but new approaches are under study in clinical trials.
In the future, pharmacogenomics will allow the development of tailored drugs to
treat a wide range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer
disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and asthma. Pharmacogenetics is the study of
inherited genetic differences in drug metabolic pathways which can affect
individual responses to drugs, both in terms of therapeutic effect as well as
adverse effects. In oncology, pharmacogenetics historically is the study
mutations (e.g., single-nucleotide polymorphisms and pharmacokinetics.
Another newfound use of pharmacogenetics involves the use of Vitamin E to lower
the risk of cardiovascular disease in patients with diabetes.