Pharmacogenomic Biomarkers for Improved Drug Therapy-Recent Progress and Future Developments

AAPS J. 2017 Nov 27;20(1):4. doi: 10.1208/s12248-017-0161-x.


Much of the inter-individual variability in drug efficacy and risk of adverse reactions is due to polymorphisms in genes encoding proteins involved in drug pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics or immunological responses. Pharmacogenetic research has identified a multitude of gene-drug response associations, which have resulted in genetically guided treatment and dosing decisions to yield a higher success rate of pharmacological treatment. The rapid technological developments for genetic analyses reveal that the number of genetic variants with importance for drug action is much higher than previously thought and that a true personalized prediction of drug response requires attention to millions of rare mutations. Here, we review the evolutionary background of genetic polymorphisms in drug-metabolizing enzymes, provide some important examples of current use of pharmacogenomic biomarkers, and give an update of germline and somatic genome biomarkers that are in use in drug development and clinical practice. We also discuss the current technology development with emphasis on complex genetic loci, review current initiatives for validation of pharmacogenomic biomarkers, and present scenarios for the future taking rare genetic variants into account for a true personalized genetically guided drug prescription. We conclude that pharmacogenomic information for patient stratification is of value to tailor optimized treatment regimens particularly in oncology. However, the routine use of pharmacogenomic biomarkers in clinical practice in other therapeutic areas is currently sparse and the prospects of its future implementation are being scrutinized by different international consortia.

Keywords: clinical implementation; cytochrome P450; oncology; pharmacogenetics; precision medicine.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Oncogenes
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Pharmacogenetics*
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Precision Medicine


  • Biomarkers