CHALLENGES AND ISSUES IN
PERSONALIZED MEDICINE AND PHARMACOGENETICS
Pharmacogenetics has great potential to advance medical treatment and drug discovery. With advances in these fields will come technical and economic challenges, as well as ethical issues.
Genome analysis for all individuals
Rapid, automated methods must be developed to efficiently identify SNPs in the three-billion-base-pair genome that influence susceptibility to disease and individual drug response.
Studying the biology of genes involved in disease and drug reactions
It can take decades to study a gene's product, function and association to drug response.
New techniques need to prove their worth
SNP analysis and expression profiling are in their infancy, and few success stories exist.
Complex diseases really are complex!
In reality, disease and drug response can involve hundreds of genes. Environmental factors such as age, nutrition and lifestyle can influence disease and drug response as well.
Adopting new practices in healthcare
Health care providers and pharmacists will have to become educated about new diagnostic tests and how to use them when treating and advising patients.
Who will pay for it?
Today's methods for SNP analysis and expression profiling are expensive. Health insurance companies may not want to pay for extra diagnostic tests, and economic issues might influence which drugs pharmaceutical companies choose to develop.
Ethical and privacy issues
Identified genetic susceptibility to disease may have implications for employers and insurance companies. Who will have access to genetic information and databases?
Supported by a Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) [No. 1 R25 RR16291-01] from the National Center for Research Resources, a component of the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services. The contents provided here are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of NCRR or NIH.