Pharmacogenomic testing

Pharmacogenomics and Pharmacogenetics : is there a difference?

The two words have slightly different meanings, but you can use them interchangeably.

Medicine is getting personal. The Mayo Clinic gives examples about the future of pharmacogenomic tests.

You and your healthcare provider can learn about drugs that may be paired with pharmacogenomic testing. Visit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website for a list of drugs with pharmacogenomic information in their labeling.

One size does not fit all. In the future, pharmacogenomic tests will be able to help many people avoid harmful reactions to medication.

What Is Pharmacogenomics?

Did you ever wonder why a medicine doesn't work for you when it worked for someone else you know? Or why it gave you a lot of side effects and your friend taking the same medicine didn't have any side effects at all? Pharmacogenomics is the study of your genes and how they affect your response to different medicines, or drugs.

Usually, a healthcare provider figures out what drug to give you and how much to give you based on your age, weight, lifestyle, general health, and other things about you. But your genes also play a role in whether a drug will work for you, not work at all, or cause harm. Today this kind of testing is not widely used because the study of pharmacogenomics is pretty new.

Research on this topic will:

  • Help your healthcare providers prescribe the right drug for you
  • Help your healthcare providers prescribe the right amount of a drug for you
  • Make safe drugs
  • Improve safety of clinical trials to test drugs
  • Develop drugs to fit your genetic makeup

What Is Pharmacogenomic Testing?

Pharmacogenomic testing is done before your healthcare provider prescribes a drug. It can help your providers choose the right medicine for you. It also can help providers figure out how much of the medicine to give you. Some examples of pharmacogenomic tests are:

  • Tests to help prescribe a drug such as Warfarin to prevent blood clots
  • Tests to help choose treatment for some cancers

How Are Pharmacogenomic Tests Made?

Many researchers are studying pharmacogenomics, so we expect more of these kinds of tests in the future.  Every pharmacogenomic test is matched with only one medicine, and finding the right match takes time and money.

Pharmacogenomic tests use biomarkers. A biomarker explains how your body will react to a certain drug. There are many biomarkers, and finding the right one for each test is hard. Researchers may think a biomarker is important, but they have to do studies to prove it. This long process can make research in pharmacogenetics slow and difficult, but new and important advances are always on the horizon.