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The Impact of Systems Biology on the Pharmacogenomics Revolution
Volume 4, Issue 3

Anna Bartow Laakmann, Lankenau Institute for Medical Research

Pharmaceutical companies have embraced pharmacogenomics in drug development to increase the efficiency of clinical trials and to improve treatment outcomes. While pharmacogenomics targets gene products known to be associated with particular illnesses, its potential is hampered by a too narrow focus on disease states which result from highly complex, multifactorial processes. Systems biology seeks to overcome this limitation by adopting a more holistic approach to understanding the molecular basis of disease. This article focuses on: (i) providing an overview of the pharmacogenomics approach to drug discovery though examining the potential and pitfalls of genomics-based research; (ii) explaining systems biology and discussing how systems biologists aim to integrate genomics into a more comprehensive, interdisciplinary endeavor to find new targets for drug development; and (iii) outlining ethical, legal, and social concerns raised by pharmacogenomics and the ways in which systems biology may transform these issues. Anna Bartow Laakmann argues that a new analytical framework is not necessary to examine systems biology because the issues raised are similar to those posed by pharmacogenomics. Laakmann finds that while the systems biology approach will add new complexity to current thinking about the impact of genomics on the pharmaceutical industry, FDA drug regulation, and the practice of medicine, it also holds the potential to bring to fruition the possibilities engendered by the sequencing of the human genome.

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