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Genes influence how heart failure patients respond to drugs

Genes dictate the color of our hair and eyes. They factor into whether we get cancer or heart disease. And, scientists increasingly recognize, they also ensure some patients will benefit from a prescription drug, while others develop adverse reactions or simply fail to respond at all.

Now University of Florida researchers have discovered that patients with heart failure can harbor genetic variations that determine whether they will tolerate the common heart drugs known as beta-blockers. In a separate study, they also determined certain genes influence whether beta-blockers successfully restore the heart to a more normal shape and size in these patients. The findings, published recently in the journal Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics and the journal Pharmacogenetics and Genomics, highlight the need to individualize therapy, as opposed to treating all people with a certain disease generally the same, said the studies' principal investigator Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., director of the UF Center for Pharmacogenomics and an executive board member of the UF Genetics Institute.

Although diet, age, health status and the environment also shape how people respond to medications, personalizing drugs based on genetic makeup instead of taking a trial-and-error approach could lead to safer, more effective treatments, said Johnson, also a professor at UF's colleges of Pharmacy and Medicine and chairwoman of the department of pharmacy practice. Because of hereditary factors, some patients break down drugs more slowly, so the amount of a certain medication may soar to toxic levels in the body. Others metabolize drugs quickly, and never accumulate enough in the bloodstream to ease what ails them.

"In the past five to 10 years, there's really been an increased interest in understanding the role of genetics in determining how people respond to drugs," Johnson said. "The reason for that is that we know that in a group of individuals, a certain portion will ha
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Contact: Melanie Fridl Ross
ufcardiac@aol.com
352-392-2624
University of Florida
21-Apr-2005


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