Implementation and utilization of genetic testing in personalized medicine

Noura S. Abul-Husn, Aniwaa Owusu Obeng, Saskia C. Sanderson, Omri Gottesman, Stuart A. Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Clinical genetic testing began over 30 years ago with the availability of mutation detection for sickle cell disease diagnosis. Since then, the field has dramatically transformed to include gene sequencing, high-throughput targeted genotyping, prenatal mutation detection, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, population-based carrier screening, and now genome-wide analyses using microarrays and next-generation sequencing. Despite these significant advances in molecular technologies and testing capabilities, clinical genetics laboratories historically have been centered on mutation detection for Mendelian disorders. However, the ongoing identification of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence variants associated with common diseases prompted the availability of testing for personal disease risk estimation, and created commercial opportunities for direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies that assay these variants. This germline genetic risk, in conjunction with other clinical, family, and demographic variables, are the key components of the personalized medicine paradigm, which aims to apply personal genomic and other relevant data into a patient's clinical assessment to more precisely guide medical management. However, genetic testing for disease risk estimation is an ongoing topic of debate, largely due to inconsistencies in the results, concerns over clinical validity and utility, and the variable mode of delivery when returning genetic results to patients in the absence of traditional counseling. A related class of genetic testing with analogous issues of clinical utility and acceptance is pharmacogenetic testing, which interrogates sequence variants implicated in interindividual drug response variability. Although clinical pharmacogenetic testing has not previously been widely adopted, advances in rapid turnaround time genetic testing technology and the recent implementation of preemptive genotyping programs at selected medical centers suggest that personalized medicine through pharmacogenetics is now a reality. This review aims to summarize the current state of implementing genetic testing for personalized medicine, with an emphasis on clinical pharmacogenetic testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-240
Number of pages14
JournalPharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 13 Aug 2014


  • Direct-to-consumer genetic testing
  • Implementation
  • Personalized medicine
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Pharmacogenomics
  • Point-of-care genetic testing
  • Preemptive genetic testing


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