This article is from the In-Depth Report Personalized Medicine in the Genomic Era
60-Second Science

Genome-Based Medical Choices Draw Nearer

A study of over 38,000 hypertension patients (the ALLHAT study, for Antihypertensive and Lipid Lowering Treatment to Prevent Heart Attack Trial) finds that individuals respond better to some drugs than to others, based on their personal genetics. Steve Mirsky reports.

It’s the kind of thing we can look forward to more in the coming years: personalized drug regimens based on our individual DNA.  An example of this new kind of personalized medicine is illustrated by a study in the January 23rd issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Researchers found that hypertension patients had better results with different drugs depending on the patient’s genetic profiles.  Currently, for the most part, doctors will put people with high blood pressure on a standard bp medication and see if it works.  If it doesn’t, they’ll try another drug, until this trial and error system finds a good one.  But genetic profiling could let physicians know immediately which patient will respond to which drug.

This study of genetics and bp meds included over 38,000 subjects with high blood pressure in the US and Canada who are taking part in a large multicenter trial.  With personalized genomic sequencing becoming affordable in the next few years, many of us should finally know in advance, not just our risks for disease, but what medications will be most effective.

—Steve Mirsky

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