Pharmacogenomics: The Significance of Genetics in the Metabolism of Natural Medicines


Natural products have been implemented in medicine through use as herbal medications, chemical compound extraction for prescription medication, or a natural source of food to fight various infections and diseases. Genetics has played a role in identifying various interactions between existing drugs and side effects. In addition, various food allergies have been identified with children in recent years, suggesting genetic associations between certain populations carrying specific genetic alleles. The recent availability of genomic data and our increased understanding of the effects of genetic variations permit a quantitative examination of the contribution of genetic variation to efficacy or toxicity of compounds derived from natural sources. The identification of target molecules relevant for diseases allows screening for natural products capable of inhibiting targets which can lead to the development of rational treatment of various diseases including neurobiological disorders, cancer, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases. This allows for more opportunities to predict the response of individual patients. Identification of genetic variations that arose as a consequence of naturally occurring compounds will help identify gene alleles, or protein ligands that can affect the pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetics of the natural products in question. In addition, diet modification and precautions to food products can be identified to help consumers limit or increase certain food intake. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying these interactions and their modification by genetic variation is expected to result in the development of new drugs that optimize individual health. We expect that strategies for individualized therapies will lead to improved results for patients.

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Hanna, N. (2012) Pharmacogenomics: The Significance of Genetics in the Metabolism of Natural Medicines. Journal of Biomaterials and Nanobiotechnology, 3, 452-461. doi: 10.4236/jbnb.2012.34046.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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