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Using Pharmacogenetic Markers in Clinical Treatment: The Pros and Cons of Preemptive Genetic Testing

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Science  01 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6158, pp. 641
DOI: 10.1126/science.342.6158.641-c


Genetic variations in genes that metabolize and transport drugs in the body are known to affect the therapeutic response in different individuals by altering the absorption, distribution, metabolism, or elimination (ADME) of those drugs. Preemptively assessing multiple pharmacogenetic factors holds tremendous potential to improve treatment by understanding the effect of important genetic variants in advance, rather than waiting to test a patient for genetic markers for each individual drug at the time of prescription. Higher throughput and more comprehensive clinical genetic testing is now available, allowing clinical testing to expand from a single gene to comprehensive panels of relevant genes—a more attractive and cost-effective approach. Preemptive clinical testing for pharmacogenetic genes has been implemented in a pediatric setting. This approach has great advantages for both the patient and the physician. However, careful consideration with regard to medical data management and communication with patients and health care providers is necessary.