Germline oncopharmacogenetics, a promising field in cancer therapy

Chiara Pesenti, Milena Gusella, Silvia M. Sirchia, Monica Miozzo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pharmacogenetics (PGx) is the study of the relationship between inter-individual genetic variation and drug responses. Germline variants of genes involved in drug metabolism, drug transport, and drug targets can affect individual response to medications. Cancer therapies are characterized by an intrinsically high toxicity; therefore, the application of pharmacogenetics to cancer patients is a particularly promising method for avoiding the use of inefficacious drugs and preventing the associated adverse effects. However, despite continuing efforts in this field, very few labels include information about germline genetic variants associated with drug responses. DPYD, TPMT, UGT1A1, G6PD, CYP2D6, and HLA are the sole loci for which the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report specific information. This review highlights the germline PGx variants that have been approved to date for anticancer treatments, and also provides some insights about other germline variants with potential clinical applications. The continuous and rapid evolution of next-generation sequencing applications, together with the development of computational methods, should help to refine the implementation of personalized medicine. One day, clinicians may be able to prescribe the best treatment and the correct drug dosage based on each patient’s genotype. This approach would improve treatment efficacy, reduce toxicity, and predict non-responders, thereby decreasing chemotherapy-associated morbidity and improving health benefits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-89
Number of pages25
JournalCellular Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Germline variants
  • Oncology
  • Oncopharmacogenetics
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Polymorphisms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Medicine(all)


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