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Venter Versus Watson

  August, 21 2008 9:48
your information resource in human molecular genetics
Personalized medicine should employ precise genetic information instead of relying on race and ethnicity to prescribe drugs in the future according to a paper in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. As part of a special pharmacoethnicity themed issue, researchers compare the genetic differences between two self-described Caucasian males whose sequenced genomes are in the public domain - J. Craig Venter and James Watson.

The two subjects in this analysis are predicted to metabolize drugs, such as antidepressants and the cancer drug tamoxifen, differently from each other. This is due to genetic differences in Cytochrome P-450 genes, which are responsible for metabolizing more than 75% of drugs during the activation and inactivation process. Dr. Venter has two functional alleles in CYP2D6 and is therefore likely to be an extensive metabolizer, while Dr. Watson's alleles suggest moderately decreased activity. In addition, the allele found in Dr. Watson is rare in the Caucasian population (3%), but is more commonly found in East Asian populations (49%).

Craig Venter and colleagues call for, in the paper, developing personalized medicine by employing genetic information instead of solely relying on race and ethnicity to prescribe drugs. Instead of limiting pharmacological advances to a particular race or ethnicity, the identification of genetic biomarkers would enable broad therapeutic application. With the steadily decreasing cost of personal genome sequencing, physicians and patients can move towards a more valuable understanding of drug dosing and potential adverse drug reactions.

Author contact:

Pauline C. Ng (J. Craig Venter Institute, Rockville, MD, USA)
E-mail: png@jcvi.org

Abstract available online.

(C) Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics press release.

Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza

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