IRMACS: The Interdisciplinary Colloquium - Special Session: "Diversity and Ethnicity - It's in the Genes: Pharmacogenetics in Drug Development

Thursday, November 22, 2007
14:30 - 15:30

Dr. Jonathan Willmer
Cantest Clinical Research Inc.


Many drugs have different profiles in different people. At least some of this variability can be explained by genetic differences between individuals. In many cases these differences lie along ethnic lines prompting drug regulators to take a serious look at how certain trials are conducted. As a result of new guidelines, genetic testing in clinical trials has dramatically increased over the past decade. Genetic differences may account for different side effect profiles or different treatment responses. with regard to adverse effect profiles, genetic mediated differences in drug metabolism particularly by the cytochrome P450 enzyme system leads to identification of populations of slow and fast metabolizers with different side effect profiles. This has led to different dosing recommendations for these different groups. Genetic testing can also be used to correctly identify a disease to be treated or to identify a subset of patients with a certain disease who might respond better to a certain treatment.

Examples from oncology and neurological disease therapies will be discussed. The talk will conclude with potential suggestions on how engineering could help in diagnosis and therapeutics in this area.