25 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2010

Date Written: October 18, 2010


In medicine, one size doesn't fit all. Two people who take the same cancer medication, for instance, may have very different responses. One may have severe, even life-threatening side effects, while the other experiences few if any side effects and seems to sail through treatment. Or, the drug may shrink a tumor in one person but not in another.

One major reason this difference happens is because people inherit variations in their genes. And even slight variations can affect how your body responds to certain medications.

Pharmacogenomics is the science that studies, among other things, how individuals react to medications. Pharmacogenomics is sometimes described as "personalized" or "individualized" medicine because it offers the potential to recommend drug treatment based on your individual genetic background.

Pharmacogenomics is the study of how an individual's genetic inheritance affects the body's response to drugs. The term comes from the words pharmacology and genomics and is thus the intersection of pharmaceuticals and genetics.

Pharmacogenomics holds the promise that drugs might one day be tailor-made for individuals and adapted to each person's own genetic makeup. Environment, diet, age, lifestyle, and state of health all can influence a person's response to medicines, but understanding an individual's genetic makeup is thought to be the key to creating personalized drugs with greater efficacy and safety.

Suggested Citation

Vadlamani, Lakshmi Indira, Pharmacogenomics (October 18, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Lakshmi Indira Vadlamani (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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