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Pharmacogenomics and the Impact on Central Laboratories

Fifty years on from the discovery of DNA's double-helical structure, James Watson and Francis Crick's claim that they had “found the secret of life' has been complemented nicely by the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003. The Human Genome Project began in 1990 at a time when scientists had discovered fewer than 100 disease genes. Today, more than 99 per cent of the human genome has been sequenced and over 1,400 disease genes have been identified.

Human Genome Project and Drug Development

For the drug development industry, the consequences of sequencing the human genome have not yet been fully realised. Increasingly however, over the past number of years, in order to take advantage of the information gained in the Human Genome Project, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies are seeking to incorporate pharmacogenomic components into their clinical protocols. The term pharmacogenomics is derived from the words pharmacology and genomics, and the discipline itself is a combination of those two sciences. In relation to drug development, pharmacogenomics is concerned with the study of how an individual's genetic inheritance affects the body's response to drugs.

Pharmacogenomics holds the promise that drugs can be developed which are targeted at a specific population, improving drug safety and efficacy, unlike the current practice for drug development whereby ‘one size fits all'. This current practice has proven very successful for pharmaceutical companies and many have profited significantly from a number of blockbuster drugs. However, with productivity of pharmaceutical research and development affecting revenue growth and investor confidence, many pharmaceutical companies are now examining other options for drug development, and in this regard one key area of interest is pharmacogenomics.


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By Michelle Lynskey, Business Development Analyst at ICON Laboratories, Europe

Michelle Lynskey is Business Development Analyst at ICON Laboratories, Europe. She holds a Degree in Biotechnology from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and a Masters in Science Communication from Dublin City University and Queen's University Belfast. Prior to joining ICON Laboratories in 2002, Michelle worked as a Biochemist in Immunology R&D for Olympus Diagnostica and as a Technologies Analyst in drug delivery for Elan Corporation.

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Michelle Lynskey
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