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African Genetic Diversity: Implications for Cytochrome P450-mediated Drug Metabolism

By March 11, 2017Provider

Continental African populations are characterized by high levels of genetic diversity in a high proportion of patients who experience adverse reactions to a range of pharmacotherapeutic approaches when compared to Caucasian and Asian populations, which the majority of research on pharmacogenetics have hitherto considered for analysis.
A February 2017 article  in EBioMedicine “African Genetic Diversity: Implications for Cytochrome P450-mediated Drug Metabolism and Drug Development” (Rajman, I., et al.) addressed the necessity for such research, presenting findings on the identification of CYP alleles of potential clinical relevance in the African population based in literature review.
Specifically, the study employed a statistical method known as PCA (principle component analysis) grounded in text mining publications to find references to global populations including Africa for the purpose of comparative analysis. Sixteen CYP variants were considered.
The authors, who confirmed that there is in fact greater diversity in CYP distribution in Africa than in other continental populations, identified a necessity for optimization of drug therapy and drug development for Africa, which currently “carries a high burden of adverse drug reactions owing to the use of old, poorly optimized drugs.”
Pharmacogenetic findings on African-Americans are often erroneously extrapolated to the African population, the article states, noting that it is not representative of the variety of populations present in the African continent.  “The African continent cannot … be treated as a single entity in drug research and development, nor can African-American populations be considered an adequate proxy for pharmacogenetic differences across Africa,” the authors stated,
The researchers called for a need to study in depth CYP variants in Africans and, moreover, to raise awareness of the greater genetic variation among this population when applied to drug metabolism and efficacy,  stating “[t]he involvement of clinicians in genomic research will facilitate this translation process, helping to ensure that patients are treated with efficacious doses of therapeutic drugs.”

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