Drug development in the era of precision medicine

Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2018 Mar;17(3):183-196. doi: 10.1038/nrd.2017.226. Epub 2017 Dec 8.


For the past three decades, the use of genomics to inform drug discovery and development pipelines has generated both excitement and scepticism. Although earlier efforts successfully identified some new drug targets, the overall clinical efficacy of developed drugs has remained unimpressive, owing in large part to the heterogeneous causes of disease. Recent technological and analytical advances in genomics, however, have now made it possible to rapidly identify and interpret the genetic variation underlying a single patient's disease, thereby providing a window into patient-specific mechanisms that cause or contribute to disease, which could ultimately enable the 'precise' targeting of these mechanisms. Here, we first examine and highlight the successes and limitations of the earlier phases of genomics in drug discovery and development. We then review the current major efforts in precision medicine and discuss the potential broader utility of mechanistically guided treatments going forward.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Drug Development*
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / chemistry*
  • Precision Medicine*
  • Rare Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations