Opportunities for Genomics

Toxicogenomics, which deals primarily with the effects of compounds on gene expression patterns in target cells or tissues, is emerging as a key approach in screening new drug candidates. Toxicogenomics reveals genetic signatures that can be used to predict the short- and long-term biological effects of exposure to a drug and to identify potential toxic mechanisms with small amounts of compound material at an early stage during drug discovery. Such assessments reduce the costs for expensive late-stage drug development processes and allow more rapid stop/go decisions during early development stages. In addition, toxicogenomics is set to complement traditional pathology and toxicity studies, especially when the drug itself is difficult to track by conventional detection methods or when its clinical outcome takes a long time to become manifest. Toxicogenomics is a process (Figure 9.1) that requires three key steps - the establishment of reference compendia with compounds from different toxicological classes, the classification of drug candidates based on the reference compendia, and the prediction of the toxicity of these compounds [4-6].

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