Pharmacogenomics in COVID drug therapies

A new study examines how pharmacogenomics could improve the security and effectiveness of COVID-19 drug therapies. Over the past few months, variety of medicine are under investigation to treat COVID-19 without well-established safety or efficacy data to support these claims. a number of these unproven therapies, however, may have underlying genetic reasons for his or her ineffectiveness, leading to fatal adverse effects as found with hydroxychloroquine.

University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy faculty Pamala Jacobson and Melanie Nicol and Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Fellow Takuto Takahashi published a peer-reviewed study in Nature Genomic Medicine about how individualization with pharmacogenomics may improve the efficiency and safety of those medications.

“The application of pharmacogenomic tests can help eliminate fatal hypersensitivity for patients prescribed certain drugs,” said Dr. Jacobson. “We asked the question if selecting a COVID-19 medication or the dose using a person’s genetic information could improve effectiveness or safety.”

“One of the most important success stories of using pharmacogenomics is with the HIV treatment abacavir,” said Dr. Nicol, “which is now a typical test for potential treatment for those living with HIV and has virtually eliminated fatal hypersensitivity related to that drug.”

The study checked out a spread of literature sources for COVID-19 drug therapies, including hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, tocilizumab, and steroids. The researchers found that there are several gene variants that alter how an individual’s body metabolizes and processes COVID-19 therapies and should increase the danger of adverse effects. They also discovered that the danger of taking these therapies is complex, since patients with COVID-19 are usually taking multiple other medications and have underlying conditions that affect the drug. Finally, the scientists found the info for the pharmacogenomics on COVID-19 are limited thanks to the first stages of the clinical trials investigating treatments.

“While we didn’t find evidence to support use of pharmacogenomic testing for COVID-19, we did identify many actionable genetic markers which will have promise to enhance efficacy and safety,” said Dr. Jacobson. “Clinical studies in patients with COVID-19 are needed before routine testing are often recommended.”

Source : US Pharm. 2020;45(10):2.

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