Pharmacogenomics is a field of research that studies how a person’s genes affect how a person responds to medications. Its long-term goal is to help physicians select the drugs and doses best suited for each person. It is part of the field of precision medicine, which aims to treat each patient individually.

What role do genes play in how medicines work?

Just as genes determine hair and eye color, they partly affect how our bodies respond to medicine.

Genes are instructions, written in DNA, for building protein molecules. Different people can have different versions of the same gene. Each version has a slightly different DNA sequence. Some of these variants are common, and some are rare. And some affect health, such as those gene variants linked to certain diseases.

Scientists know that certain proteins affect how drugs work. Pharmacogenomics looks at variations in genes for these proteins. Such proteins include liver enzymes that chemically change drugs. Sometimes chemical changes can make the drugs more—or less—active in the body. Even small differences in the genes for these liver enzymes can have a big impact on a drug’s safety or effectiveness.

Read more about Pharmacogenomics and the benefits of personalized medicine here.

Source: National Institute of General Medical Sciences

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