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ACCOuNT-ing for African Americans in Pharmacogenomics

Author: Deanna L. Kroetz, PhD on February 19, 2019

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The United States population is rich in racial and ethnic diversity. This diversity contributes to the fabric of our country in a myriad of ways and projections are for a quarter of the population being non-white by mid-century. Unfortunately, our understanding of disease and its treatment is still largely based on studies in white males and extrapolation to women and minority populations does not fully account for race- and sex-dependent differences. In response to government mandates, progress in the inclusion of women in clinical studies has improved, although similar inclusion of minority populations still lags behind. This is particularly true for genomic studies and minority populations will not optimally benefit from advances in precision medicine until this disparity is addressed.

A recent review article in Clinical and Translational Science by Friedman and colleagues describes a comprehensive project to increase knowledge of pharmacogenetic variation in African Americans. The African American Cardiovascular Pharmacogenetic Consortium (ACCOuNT) brings together experts in pharmacogenomics, bioinformatics, minority engagement and clinical cardiovascular medicine to address the pharmacogenetic divide between African Americans and whites at the discovery, translation and implementation levels. The discovery of novel African American-specific genetic variants predictive of cardiovascular drug response will serve as the foundation for translational studies of their impact in response to warfarin, clopidogrel and novel oral anticoagulants. The focus on cardiovascular drugs with poor response and/or toxicity associated with major impacts on morbidity and mortality is likely to accelerate the clinical implementation of findings.

Importantly, all of the genomic and transcriptomic data collected in these studies will be publically available and will support expanded studies in this underserved population. The development and organization of the ACCOuNT Consortium can also serve as a much needed template for similar efforts in other understudied populations. The promise of precision medicine relies deeply on efforts for inclusion in genomic studies of disease and drug therapy. The Clinical and Translational Science editorial team invites the submission of manuscripts describing original studies of the discovery and translation of genomic, transcriptomic, epigenomic and other biomarkers of disease and drug response in diverse populations.    

Image by Friedman, et al.. Clin. Trans. Sci., https://ascpt.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/cts.12608, is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0. ©2018 The authors.

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