Pharmacogenetics of codeine metabolism to morphine in pediatric dental patients

Pharmacogenetics-the study of how genetic makeup affects an individual’s response to drugs-fascinates Evan Kwong. The field addresses the underlying causes of why drugs may affect people differently, bringing the study of genetics into a practical, clinical setting. In the future, having access to a patient’s genetic profile could help clinicians more quickly and accurately select the right therapy. Evan’s research focuses on the common painkiller codeine, which produces pain relief as it is metabolized into morphine by a liver enzyme. A genetic variation in 25 to 40 per cent of people of Chinese descent appears to be associated with decreased function of this liver enzyme. Evan hopes to determine whether people who carry this genetic variation metabolize codeine less effectively. With that knowledge, clinicians could offer other drugs that will be effective.