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Papers of the Week

2019 Apr

PLoS Genet



On the utilization of polygenic risk scores for therapeutic targeting.


Gibson G
PLoS Genet. 2019 Apr; 15(4):e1008060.
PMID: 31022172.


The promise of personalized genomic medicine is that knowledge of a person's gene sequences and activity will facilitate more appropriate medical interventions, particularly drug prescriptions, to reduce the burden of disease. Early successes in oncology and pediatrics have affirmed the power of positive diagnosis and are mostly based on detection of one or a few mutations that drive the specific pathology. However, genetically more complex diseases require the development of polygenic risk scores (PRSs) that have variable accuracy. The rarity of events often means that they have necessarily low precision: many called positives are actually not at risk, and only a fraction of cases are prevented by targeted therapy. In some situations, negative prediction may better define the population at low risk. Here, I review five conditions across a broad spectrum of chronic disease (opioid pain medication, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, major depression, and osteoporotic bone fracture), considering in each case how genetic prediction might be used to target drug prescription. This leads to a call for more research designed to evaluate genetic likelihood of response to therapy and a call for evaluation of PRS, not just in terms of sensitivity and specificity but also with respect to potential clinical efficacy.