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The key lies in the genes

Our genes influence the way we react to drugs. (Photograph: Shutterstock)

Whether or not patients will respond to a drug can be determined in advance. In this way, side effects can be avoided and patients benefit, writes Ernst Hafen.

“All things are poison, and nothing is without poison, the dosage alone makes it so a thing is not a poison.” These were the words of Paracelsus, a Swiss physician who recognised back in the 16th century that every medicine has its benefits and risks, and that for a medicine to work, the individual dose is crucial.

This is still highly relevant today, since most drugs on the market are ‘one size fits all’, meaning patients with the same condition often receive the same dose, even though studies show that this is only optimal for a fraction of them1. In some cases, doctors adjust the dose on a trial-​and-error basis. This approach is inefficient and leads to unnecessary adverse reactions and increased healthcare costs. Read more in the blog by professor Ernst Hafen.