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Pharmacogenomics' Reality Check

This article was originally published in Start Up

Executive Summary

Pharmacogenomics is making its way into the infrastructure of clinical medicine. Large companies are discussing pharmacogenomics at the board level, and issuing top-down pronouncements about it. It is also entering the vocabulary of drug testing teams; pharmacogenomics is, for instance, being applied to traditional pharmacogenetic drug metabolism tests. The technology will almost certainly impact drug discovery. Knowing the genetic variability of a target can help a drug developer choose the best candidate from among three or four leads early in the game. But cost-effective enabling technologies do not yet exist. Most sorely missed are cost-effective, high-throughput genotyping methods. For now, companies are banking samples of patients' DNA and developing genetic tests to accompany drugs in clinical trials and on the market. Even as tool providers work to overcome technology hurdles, drug companies unquestionably remain worried about the possibility that pharmacogenomics information could limit the market potential of their products. Nevertheless, the buy-in may well come--surprisingly--from marketing people.

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