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Drug Discovery, the Development of Toxicogenomics and Pharmacogenomics, Translational Medicine

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In 2005 — with scientists still trying to suss out the impact genomics could have on various fields of research — Genome Technology's July/August issue delved into the impact of toxicogenomics, pharmacogenomics, and RNAi on drug development. Genomics seemed to offer a gentler option to traditional toxicology, which GT called "pretty brutal." At that time, the value of genomics in drug development was still being debated, and though researchers could theoretically see the potential benefits of the various genomic applications, they weren't being widely used.

Enter California-based Iconix Pharmaceuticals — a drug discovery and tools provider that had teamed up with other companies to build a database tracking rat gene expression profiles associated with toxic responses to certain drugs. Another company, Gene Logic, had also developed its own toxicogenomic platform — dubbed ToxExpress — based on analyses of compound drug treatments that were thought to cause gene expression dysregulation.

Today, toxicogenomics and pharmacogenomics are widely used in drug discovery to enhance the analysis of a drug's toxicity, and the US Food and Drug Administration encourages the submission of genomic data analysis, though it doesn't yet base its drug approval decisions solely on genomic data. Many companies continue to develop toxicogenomic databases, including Gene Logic, which has expanded its ToxExpress Program since its inception. Other government agencies are also joining the tox party — including the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which is building a database of toxicology studies, the Chemical Effects in Biological Systems project that will include toxicogenomics data.

In the July/August 2009 issue of GT, drug discovery was again the center of attention, only this time the story was about the growing role of universities and nonprofit organizations in the development of therapeutic candidates. "Universities are now very, very interested in what is being called translational medicine, but what is being meant is testing some of their drugs in phase I and II," Duke University's Allen Roses said at the time. GT reported that researchers were taking on diseases previously considered "undruggable" and attacking them in new ways. Researchers, such as the team at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, were being tapped to help big pharma with the generation, collection, and analysis of biomarker and gene expression data to aid in finding targets for disease.

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