Bioscience

Answering the Question:

October 27, 2008

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: Karin Lorentzen, AHSC Office of Public Affairs] – In the world of pharmaceutical science, the question of why two very similar individuals can react differently to a drug is the subject of intense interest.

At The University of Arizona College of Pharmacy, researchers are striving to find answers to seemingly simple questions asked by patients, such as, “Why did I have to try three different high blood pressure medications before my doctor found one that worked for me?” and “Why did my cancer stay in remission with drug treatment, but my friend who had the same treatment was not so fortunate?”

At the basis of the answers to these questions is a field of study called pharmacogenomics, the analysis of how the expression of the human genome, the DNA code that instructs the making of the machinery of a cell, is key to the body’s response to drugs.

“Importantly,” said Walt Klimecki, assistant professor at UA College of Pharmacy, “pharmacogenomics helps us understand why two apparently similar individuals could have very different responses to the same drug. It holds the promise that drugs might one day be tailor-made for individuals and adapted to each person’s own particular makeup.”

In his lab at the UA’s BIO5 Institute, Klimecki and Alicia Bolt, a graduate student in pharmacology and toxicology, are conducting pharmacogenomic research on a collection of white blood cells taken from about 200 healthy individuals from diverse global populations in the United States, China and Africa. The cells have been manipulated experimentally so that they can easily be grown in a plastic flask with growth media. Klimecki stores stocks of these individuals’ cells in a lab freezer at the BIO5 Institute