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Uses for genetics in pharmacy

by Phillippa Brice and Simon Sanderson

Philippa Brice, PhD, is sciencepolicy and dissemination manager for the Public Health GeneticsUnit (part of the CambridgeGenetics Knowledge Park) where her work focuses on initiativesto stimulate the transfer of genetics research into clinical practice,and on the effective communication of genetics based knowledgeto health professionals. She previously worked in biomedical intelligencein the pharmaceutical industry.

Simon Sanderson, DPH, FFPHM, isclinical lecturer in primary care genetics in the Departmentof Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge andpublichealth physician at the Public Health Genetics Unit


Pharmacogenetics can be defined as the application of genetic analysisto predict drug response, efficacy and toxicity. More recently, sincecompletion of the Human Genome Project, the term “pharmacogenomics” hascome into common use (see Panel 1) but in this article, we will continueto use “pharmacogenetics”.

The discipline of pharmacogenetics dates back to the 1950s with the observationof variable inherited clinical responses to primaquine, isoniazid andthe anaesthetic succinylcholine. Primaquine can cause haemolytic anaemia in those withglucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, isoniazid is likely to causemore severe side effects in people who are “slow drug metabolisers”,and patients with a defective metabolising enzyme experience prolongedmuscle relaxation when succinylcholine is used. The DNA (deoxyribonucleicacid) sequences of the genes involved, however, have only recently been determined.

Full article PDF 80K

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 10002212

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