There is growing research interest in learning the genetic basis of response and adverse effects with psychotropic medications, including antipsychotic drugs. However, the clinical utility of information from genetic studies is compromised by their controversial results, primarily due to relatively small effect and sample sizes. Clinical, demographic, and environmental differences in patient cohorts further explain the lack of consistent results from these genetic studies. Furthermore, the availability of psychopharmacological expertise in interpreting clinically meaningful results from genetic assays has been a challenge, one that often results in suboptimal use of genetic testing in clinical practice. These limitations explain the difficulties in the translation of psychopharmacological research in pharmacogenetics and pharmacogenomics from bench to bedside to manage increasingly treatment-refractory psychiatric disorders, especially schizophrenia. Although these shortcomings question the utility of genetic testing in the general population, the commercially available genetic assays are being increasingly utilized to optimize the effectiveness of psychotropic medications in the treatment-refractory patient population, including schizophrenia. In this context, patients with treatment-refractory schizophrenia are among of the most vulnerable patients to be exposed to the debilitating adverse effects from often irrational and high-dose antipsychotic polypharmacy without clinically meaningful benefits. The primary objective of this comprehensive review is to analyze and interpret replicated findings from the genetic studies to identify specific genetic biomarkers that could be utilized to enhance antipsychotic efficacy and tolerability in the treatment-refractory schizophrenia population.
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