Graphic: Courtesy of PharmGKB
 THE PYRAMID: A summary of the phenotypes that can be related to genotypes in pharmaco-genomics.

Why does the cold medication that makes you sleepy give your friend the jitters? Diet, perhaps, or gender, but equally likely are your respective genetic backgrounds. With the era of personalized medicine approaching, individual responses to drugs are set to capture ever more attention from scientists and practitioners, and as a harbinger of the trend, the world's first public database of gene-drug interactions is now open for business.

Known as PharmGKB, for the Pharmacogenetics and Pharmacogenomics Knowledge Base, the resource is under the aegis of bioinformatician Russ Altman at Stanford University, who proclaims, "We want to be a well-known source of quality information about genetic variations in populations and their associations with drug-response phenotypes."

GENETIC PREDISPOSITIONS Pre-prescription genotyping is already mandatory for some drugs. In pediatric patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia,...

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