What is pharmacogenomics?
Pharmacogenomics is a combination of pharmacology and genomics which utilizes a person’s genetic information to study how he/she response to drugs. It is one of the elements in personalised medicine.
How it can help COVID-19 patients?
Currently, there are no specific medications that can treat COVID-19.1 Researchers around the globe are rushing to innovate or find the drug for COVID-19. As reported, many patients with underlying medical problems are prone to have a higher risk of complications from COVID-19. In this COVID-19 scenario, the pharmacogenomics can be used to mitigate the gene-drug interactions in COVID-19 patients and enhance the efficacy of the treatment.2
For instance, hydroxychloroquine has been used as an experimental drug to treat COVID-19 patients. However, patients with heart problems have higher risks of complications from COVID-19 and the side effects of the hydroxychloroquine such as arrhythmia (problem with the rhythm of the heartbeat)2,3 might worsen the conditions. In previous study, it was demonstrated that CYP2D6 gene is associated with the metabolism of hydroxychloroquine.4 This might explain why some patients with positive COVID-19 have benefits after taking hydroxychloroquine while others are not! PharmGKB’s COVID-19 has taken an initiative to list out all the drugs that might impact the treatment of COVID-19 (https://www.pharmgkb.org/page/COVID).
Implementing pharmacogenomics in medical sectors are challenging especially during this pandemic which includes financial and investment pressures as well as lack of expertise. Overcoming these challenges might hold the promise in improving treatment and it can be used to guide healthcare providers to personalise the drug prescription, reduce trial and error and prevent the occurrence of adverse drug events, even after COVID-19 pandemic.
- Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19). (April, 2020). World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses#:~:text=protect
- Considering pharmacogenomics during Covid-19? Here’s what you need to know. (May, 2020). Advisory Board. Retrieved from https://www.advisory.com/daily-briefing/2020/05/07/covid-pharmacogenics
- COVID-19 Hydroxychloroquine Treatment Brings Prolonged QT Arrhythmia Issues. (March, 2020). Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology (DAIC). Retrieved from https://www.dicardiology.com/article/covid-19-hydroxychloroquine-treatment-brings-prolonged-qt-arrhythmia-issues
- Lee, J. Y., Vinayagamoorthy, N., Han, K., Kwok, S. K., Ju, J. H., Park, K. S., … & Park, S. H. (2016). Association of polymorphisms of cytochrome P450 2D6 with blood hydroxychloroquine levels in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis & Rheumatology, 68(1), 184-190.