Pharmacogenetics to Improve Drug Discovery

Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly using pharmacogenetic techniques and data to improve the drugs discovery process. There are two main ways in which this is being done.

Discovering New Drugs that Work Well in the Entire Population

Drug candidates can be screened for variable responses against the most common alleles of a particular genomic target. Only those candidates who show no significant variation in efficacy are then taken into drug development. This type of screening reduces the risk of candidates being rejected at a later stage and increases their likelihood of success. Drugs developed this way are more likely to work well in all patient groups.

Discovering New "Pharmacogenomic" Drugs Aimed at Genomic Subpopulations A significant number of companies are developing strategies to create new drugs aimed at particular genomic subpopulations; this is widely known in the industry as "pharmocoge-nomics." In most cases the target groups will be individuals who are most likely to benefit from therapy, the so called "good responders." These drugs would probably have to be approved as safe in all groups but would be licensed and marketed for good responders. In principle, this might increase the chance of an effective drug being approved, but at the expense of it having a restricted market. If such drugs were developed, they would be more likely to be clinically effective in their target group.

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