Someone asked me the other day "What is the Human Genome Project for
?" - which is a good question. This new field is one of many possible answers. It's addressing the question of undesirable side effects
s - or to quote the marketing hype "tailoring drugs for YOUR body"...
How is this possible? Well, the theory goes that even though we are 99.99% identical to each other, it's the 0.01% that really matters for medicines. These differences are in the genome, and could (theoretically) be matched to differences in physiology.
How this would work in practice, I don't know. Oh, the bioinformatics is cool (SNP -> Protein Model -> Docking -> Drug (Re)Design etc) but how do you get the info in the first place? If you've seen GATTACA, you might have noticed the 'genome scanners'that they used* . That's a bit too star-trek really - a cheek swab, PCR and some sequencing would be necessary.
In summary, the idea is that you go to your doctor with a complaint, a drug is prescribed based on BOTH the symptoms AND your individual differences for that particular disease. Hopefully, this makes the drug more effective - and known side-effects are minimised by careful choice of available drugs.
* Not as bad as the 'genome printout' Uma Thurman's charcter gets - which is three sheets of paper which she skims through. AATCGATCGACTACGACTACGACTACGACTACGCATACGA.....