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Schizophr Bull. 2008 Nov;34(6):1130-44. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbn114. Epub 2008 Aug 27.

Pharmacogenetics in psychiatry: are we ready for widespread clinical use?

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  • 1Section of Schizophrenia, Imaging and Therapeutics, Division of Psychological Medicine and Psychiatry, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London, UK.


There are high expectations about the capabilities of pharmacogenetics to tailor psychotropic treatment and "personalize" treatment. While a large number of associations, with generally small effect size, have been discovered, a "test" with widespread use and adoption is still missing. A more realistic picture, recognizing the important contribution of clinical and environmental factors toward overall clinical outcome has emerged. In this emerging view, genetic findings, if considered individually, may have limited clinical applications. Thus, in recent years, combinations of information in several genes have been used for the selection of appropriate therapeutic doses and for the prediction of agranulocytosis, hyperlipidemia, and response to antipsychotic and antidepressant medications. While these tests based on multiple genes show greater predictive ability than individual allele tests, their net impact on clinical consequence and costs is limited, thus leading to limited penetration into widespread clinical use. As one looks at other branches of medicine, there are successful examples of pharmacogenetic tests guiding treatment, and thus, it is reasonable to hope that with the incorporation of clinical and environmental information and the identification of new genes drawn from genome-wide analysis, will improve the predictive utility of these tests leading to their increased use by clinicians.

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