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A Journal on Biotechnology and Molecular Biology

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Minerva Biotecnologica 2004 September;16(3):181-8

language: English

The pharmacogenomics of anti-cancer chemotherapy

Marvin V., Stebbing J., Powels T., Bower M.

The Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, UK


The cellular targets for the majority of chemotherapeutic agents contain genetic polymorphisms that can greatly influence the response to treatment. However, the prospective identification of these polymorphisms in patients likely to benefit from anti-cancer therapy is not yet routinely possible for most treatments. One goal of pharmacogenomics is to enable the appropriate selection of these individuals thus eliminating unpredictable efficacy and toxicity. In clinical trials, pharmacogenomics can be used to identify target populations that either will have minimal benefit or a better outcome. There has been some success in situations where single genes play a large role in the overall drug response and this is discussed with reference to common classes of cytotoxics. The future of cancer pharmacogenomics will involve an examination of the interplay between multiple genetic factors, as the response to cytotoxics is likely to be complex and polyfactorial. Ultimately, pharmacogenomics will facilitate movement towards individualized, genetically based cancer treatment.

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