Applying Genomics

Pharmacogenomics and Toxicogenomics

Pharmacogenomics, or toxicogenomics, involves evaluating drug effectiveness and safety on the basis of information from an individual's genomic sequence. We can study genomic responses to drugs using experimental animals (such as laboratory rats or mice) or live cells in the laboratory before embarking on studies with humans. Studying changes in gene expression could provide information about the transcription profile in the drug's presence, which we can use as an early indicator of the potential for toxic effects. For example, genes involved in cellular growth and controlled cell death, when disturbed, could lead to cancerous cell growth. Genome-wide studies can also help to find new genes involved in drug toxicity. Medical professionals can use personal genome sequence information to prescribe medications that will be most effective and least toxic on the basis of the individual patient’s genotype. The gene signatures may not be completely accurate, but medical professionals can test them further before pathologic symptoms arise.