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What is the placebome?23 Apr 2015
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Placebos have been used for many years as a fundamental component of clinical research. They are provided to control groups in order to evaluate drug efficacy. However, a placebo effect has been identified where the act of taking a substance with no verifiable medical value has a positive effect on some patients.
With the improved genetic sequencing studies now available it has been possible to perform analyses which can assess the placebo response in more detail. The results of these studies are reviewed in the recent Trends in Molecular Medicine article entitled; ‘Genetics and the placebo effect: the placebome’.

In this article the authors present support that a network of genes, a placebome, is involved in determining whether and how a particular individual will respond to a placebo. The genes thus far identified play a role in neurotransmitter pathways. The presence of a placebome raises the possibility that some placebo and drug responses might be involved in the same brain pathways. Therefore placebo/drug interactions need to be considered and it is possible that no treatment studies need to be included in clinical trials.

Although the idea of the placebome is only recently conceived, it has the potential to radically change how clinical trials need to be performed.

Journal reference: K.T. Hall, et al. Genetics and the placebo effect: the placebome. Trends in Molecular Medicine

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