Conclusions

The application of gene expression analysis to toxicology is now a mature science. The field has rapidly progressed from the proof-of-principle phase to actual applications, and gene expression profiling is already being used in screening for toxicity of lead compounds in drug discovery. There are already a few examples of this technology being used to identify safety issues of drugs that were not evident from pre-clinical studies.

To make the best use of the technology one of the prerequisite is the availability of extensive databases of toxicogenomixcs data, and there are already several databases, both public and commercial, that incorporate gene expression data with toxicology and biological end-points. The availability of highly annotated databases in the public domain would be extremely important to realize the full potential of such technology, and the formation of international consortia to harmonize the work would be a very effective way to move the field forward.

Gene expression profiling has been also shown to be an important tool in addressing the problem of drug resistance in cancer treatment and as a predictor of disease outcome. This opens up the possibility of better detection of tumor development, a more accurate diagnosis and prognosis, and, above all, a vision of personalized oncology treatment. All complications noted, the application of gene expression profiling to toxicology and disease analysis has clearly the potential for providing better, safer, and more effective treatments to oncology patients.

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