Pharmacogenomics & Pharmacoepidemiology Cancer Research
The rapidly advancing field of pharmacogenomics, along with new tools and
infrastructures now available in the field of pharmacoepidemiology, have created important
new opportunities in cancer research and control. Pharmacogenomics involves identifying
an individual's response to a drug based on his or her genetic, genomic, and/or proteomic
profile. Growing scientific evidence supports the concept that each patient's cancer or
risk of cancer has a unique genetic and/or molecular profile, and advances in
pharmacogenomics may provide new ways to personalize an individual's therapy for increased
clinical benefit. Pharmacoepidemiology focuses on why groups of individuals respond
differently to drug therapy based on clinical and epidemiologic factors.
The Trans-NCI Pharmacogenomics and Pharmacoepidemiology Working Group (PPWG) is
actively advancing a pharmacogenomics and pharmacoepidemiology research agenda at NCI by
developing initiatives and studies aimed at discovering epidemiologic, clinical, and
genomic factors related to cancer therapy response. Through discovering ways to maximize
response to cancer treatment while minimizing serious toxicity, these initiatives will
help improve the benefit-to-risk ratio of cancer treatment and prevention in clinical
practice. These studies will potentially enhance our ability to practice personalized
cancer medicine, and ultimately to reduce cancer morbidity and mortality.
The PPWG, chaired by Dr.
Andrew Freedman of the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at
NCI, is charged with developing a targeted research agenda in pharmacogenomics
and pharmacoepidemiology that will connect discoveries in basic and molecular
sciences, clinical trials, and population research, so as to enhance
personalized cancer therapy. Specifically, the PPWG seeks to advance research to:
- evaluate the risk of serious adverse acute and long-term events associated with
cancer drug therapies and drugs used to treat side effects;
- identify specific clinical, lifestyle, and genomic factors that are associated with
enhanced response to cancer therapy and reduced adverse events; and
- assess the association of common prescription pharmaceuticals with increased or
decreased risk of cancer development.
In addition, the PPWG will work to enhance communication, coordination, and
collaboration across NCI Divisions, other parts of NIH, and other Federal agencies, such
as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and
Quality (AHRQ). It also will identify opportunities and priorities for proof of principle
studies, pilot studies, and future large initiatives to advance research in cancer
pharmacogenomics and pharmacoepidemiology.
The PPWG functions through its three subgroups, which have the following broad
- Basic Science (chaired by Dr. William Douglas Figg of
the Center for Cancer Research): Will identify and prioritize the most
promising inter-individual pharmacogenomic variations that could be incorporated
into drug discovery and clinical trials.
- Clinical Trials (chaired by Dr. Lori Minasian of the
Division of Cancer Prevention): Will identify and prioritize opportunities
for pharmacogenomic study designs, analyses, and specimen collection within
NCI-sponsored clinical trials.
- Population Science (co-chaired by Dr. Nathaniel Rothman
of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics and Dr. Arnold Potosky of
the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences): Will identify
large populations that could potentially participate in pharmacogenomics and
pharmacoepidemiology studies and develop the data infrastructures
that will be essential to carrying out this program of research.