Adverse drug reactions can be worrying for patients, decrease adherence or even result in hospital admission. Choosing the best drug treatment for a patient is clearly very important and in some cases can be costly and time consuming – especially important to consider within the NHS. What if the prescriber knew how their patient is likely to react to a drug, before making them trial various options and endure all too common side effects?
Stratified medicine, or more specifically pharmacogenetics, allows us to tailor the patient’s medication to best suit them based on their genetic code. Drugs undergo metabolism in the body via specific pathways, which must be outlined by the pharmaceutical company as part of the discovery process. Due to variations in our DNA, some patients will react differently to a drug treatment as some of the specific metabolic pathways may be impaired or more advantageous as a result of the altered genes.
By analysing a DNA sample from a patient, in addition to the readily available metabolic information for specific drugs, a personalised report can be created to inform prescribers of ineffective or even potentially dangerous drugs which should be avoided. Based on this information, prescribers can follow a targeted and individualised approach to prescribing the safest and most effective treatments. This information could then be stored in the patient’s medical records, allowing for effective prescribing time and time again.
So, how about a research careers as a pharmacogeneticist? There are two main avenues in pharmacogenetics: the first studies existing drugs and how they affect people with various genetic make ups; the second being involved in the discovery of new drugs based on the genetic code.
Interested in pharmacogenetics and want to learn more?
We have carefully selected several links to useful websites that discuss this topic and give you more details on pharmacogenetic testing, stratified medicine or possible career options in this field. Have a read through!
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