Introduction

Antipsychotic drugs constitute the mainstay of treatment for schizophrenia; they are used to treat acute psychotic episodes and reduce risk of relapse (1). However, a significant proportion of treated patients (25-50%) fail to show satisfactory recovery, and 80% will have a relapse within five years (2,3). In addition, between 50% and 70% of the patients develop severe and lasting side effects as a result of long-term antipsychotic treatment (4). Failure to find an appropriate treatment is associated with poor prognosis and may reduce chances of recovery. Early and effective treatment is therefore important. There are two major classes of antipsychotics, classical and atypical drugs, with different pharmacological profiles and varied success in the treatment of the disease. However, at present it is not possible to determine, other than by a trial of treatment, which individuals will respond to which drugs. Pharmacogenetic and pharmacogenomic research approaches aim to identify genetic factors that influence response variability and to use that information for treatment prediction and selection. Pharmacogenetic research has produced in recent years interesting results that have been translated into useful clinical applications (i.e., determination of metabolic status). Pharmacogenomic research is producing a wealth of information on response-related factors, although the clinical utility of this approach will only become apparent over the next decade.

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