The basis of pharmacogenetics is single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP). Researchers are pinpointing variations in an enzyme's response to a certain drug -- such as rapid versus slow metabolism of a drug -- comparisons between individuals with known responses to certain medications and those who have yet to undergo the same treatment, thus predicting the untreated patient's response.
These mapping technologies have already advanced significantly: Over 1 million SNPs in the human genome have been identified by the SNP Consortium. Some are responsible for a patient's susceptibility to a disease and others for the individual's susceptibility to positive/negative treatment response and side effects. Researchers are currently studying the genetic basis for differences in patient response to pharmacologic treatments for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and others.
Knowledge that an individual possesses certain polymorphisms will allow the treating physician to tailor their course of treatment, thus enhancing the likelihood for effective treatment of a disorder. Comparing SNPs before actually beginning treatment can also spare the wasted time and unwanted side effects that often accompany trials of different pharmacologic treatments. The ability to individualize therapy based on SNPs will allow for more timely and effective treatment of your patients A, B and C.
(This news brief is based on a symposium that was presented at the 6th Internet World Congress for Biomedical Sciences -- Ed.) -- RR