The current and potential impact of genetics and genomics on neuropsychopharmacology.
One justification for the major scientific and financial investments in genetic and genomic studies in medicine is their therapeutic potential, both for revealing novel targets for drugs which treat the disease process, as well as allowing for more effective and safe use of existing medications. This review considers the extent to which this promise has yet been realised within psychopharmacology, how things are likely to develop in the foreseeable future, and the key issues involved. It draws primarily on examples from schizophrenia and its treatments. One observation is that there is evidence for a range of genetic influences on different aspects of psychopharmacology in terms of discovery science, but far less evidence that meets the standards required before such discoveries impact upon clinical practice. One reason is that results reveal complex genetic influences that are hard to replicate and usually of very small effect. Similarly, the slow progress being made in revealing the genes that underlie the major psychiatric syndromes hampers attempts to apply the findings to identify novel drug targets. Nevertheless, there are some intriguing positive findings of various kinds, and clear potential for genetics and genomics to play an increasing and major role in psychiatric drug discovery.