Introduction

A subgroup of patients receiving a drug may fail to respond to the medication or develop adverse reactions. Such interindividual variability in drug response has a major impact in both clinical practice and drug development. Several host factors, including the patient's age, gender, smoking habit, alcohol consumption, renal and liver function, and disease factors are likely to influence drug response. In addition to this, genetic factors may also be important (1-4). This chapter reviews the evolving concepts and potential applications of such genetic factors, a field of study termed pharmacogenetics, and more recently pharmacogenomics (5), in gastrointestinal and liver diseases. Much of the focus of pharmacogenetics is on single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) which are the most common source of variation in the human genome, occurring at approximately 1 in 1000 base pairs (6).

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