Currently, considerable effort is devoted to finding novel drug targets. Problematically, the development of new medications is extremely expensive and takes many years. A parallel and potentially more immediate route to enhance treatment efficacy and minimize common adverse effects is to tailor the use of existing drugs to individual patients.
Initial studies aimed to predict drug response were hampered by the fact that deep mechanistic knowledge of drug action is typically lacking. With advances in genomic technologies, it has become possible to bypass the need for such knowledge by studying genetic variation on a genome-wide scale. This has yielded multiple encouraging findings. Other relevant developments involve the possibility to combine population-based genetic studies with electronic medical records, perform high-throughput screening of new potential drugs, and change the genome at sites that cause disease.
Although the tests that are currently on the market generally lack robust prognostic power, in this invited editorial we argue the field of precision medicine has undergone a proof of concept. New research tools may generate a next generation of tests that meet the widespread clinical demand for precision medicine.