Prepare for Genomics, Expert Advises Pharmacists

Article excerpt

The gathering genomics revolution will open new health-care opportunities that pharmacists should be prepared to seize, according to a leading biotechnology expert.

New therapies spawned from the gene mapping of the Human Genome Project are beginning to revolutionize medicine's approaches to diseases and treatments, and pharmacists could have a central role to play as the keepers of those therapies, said Michael Montague, Ph.D., director of research operations, Pharmacia Corp. Speaking at the recent annual meeting of the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association in San Antonio, he urged pharmaacts to consider ways to get in on the pharmacogenomic action.

Genomics is a term used to describe a group of technologies and methods that enable scientists to map and sequence all the genes of any organism, Montague explained. Genomics will help drive dramatic changes in the practice of medicine and medications. Using genomics, scientists will be able to identify novel therapeutic targets, identify patients most suited to a particular therapeutic intervention, conduct genetic risk assessments for diseases, and generate novel strategies for disease prevention.

"I think the profession of pharmacy has some interesting opportunities to reinvent itself," said Montague. "As someone completely from the outside, I'm going to be bold in making some modest proposals. The first proposal is that with the emergence of gene therapy, pharmacy may want to be the profession that takes care of the genes and supplies them to physicians for insertion in the patient."

Montague's second pharmacy option touched on cell-based therapies, which he said will become more important, especially stem cells. …


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