Pharmacogenetic testing in oncology

a Brazilian perspective


  • Guilherme Suarez-Kurtz Instituto Nacional de Cancer



Pharmacogenes, Precision Medicine, Thiopurines, Fluoropyrimidines, Irinotecan, Tamoxifen, CYP2D6, DPYD, TPMT, UGT1A1


Pharmacogenetics, a major component of individualized or precision medicine, relies on human genetic diversity. The remarkable developments in sequencing technologies have revealed that the number of genetic variants modulating drug action is much higher than previously thought and that a true personalized prediction of drug response requires attention to rare mutations (minor allele frequency, MAFo1%) in addition to polymorphisms (MAF41%) in pharmacogenes. This has major implications for the conceptual development and clinical implementation of pharmacogenetics. Drugs used in cancer treatment have been major targets of pharmacogenetics studies, encompassing both germline polymorphisms and somatic variants in the tumor genome. The present overview, however, has a narrower scope and is focused on germline cancer pharmacogenetics, more specifically, on drug/gene pairs for which pharmacogenetics-informed prescription guidelines have been published by the Clinical Pharmacogenetics Implementation Consortium and/or the Dutch Pharmacogenetic Working Group, namely, thiopurines/TPMT, fluoropyrimidines/UGT1A1, irinotecan/UGT1A1 and tamoxifen/CYP2D6. I begin by reviewing the general principles of pharmacogenetics-informed prescription, pharmacogenetics testing and the perceived barriers to the adoption of routine pharmacogenetics testing in clinical practice. Then, I highlight aspects of the pharmacogenetics testing of the selected drug-gene pairs and finally present pharmacogenetics data from Brazilian studies pertinent to these drug-gene pairs. I conclude with the notion that pharmacogenetics testing has the potential to greatly benefit patients by enabling precision medicine applied to drug therapy, ensuring better efficacy and reducing the risk of adverse effects.


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How to Cite

Suarez-Kurtz, G. (2019). Pharmacogenetic testing in oncology: a Brazilian perspective. Clinics, 73(Suppl. 1), e565s.



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