Pharmacogenomics is the study of how genes affect a person’s response to drugs. This relatively new field combines pharmacology (the science of drugs) and genomics (the study of genes and their functions) to develop safe and effective medications and dosages that are tailored to a person’s genetic makeup. It has been impossible to predict, with certainty, the patients who will respond positively or not at all to a medication; we are also so far unable to identify those who may experience adverse drug reactions, which has been leading to an increased number of hospitalizations and deaths in the United States. Thanks to the Human Genome Project researchers are learning how inherited differences in genes affect the body’s response to medications. These genetic differences will be used to predict whether a medication will be effective for a particular person, and also to help prevent adverse drug reactions. The future of pharmacogenomics will allow the development of tailored drugs to treat a wide range of health problems, including addiction, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, and asthma. With the knowledge gained from the Human Genome Project, researchers are learning how inherited differences in genes affect the body’s response to medications. These genetic differences will be used to predict whether a medication will be effective for a particular person or whether it should be avoided. This alone radically changes the approach of healthcare from guesswork and symptom management to recovery and lasting wellness.
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