Pharmacogenomics in Papua New Guineans: unique profiles and implications for enhancing drug efficacy whilst improving drug safety Academic Article uri icon


  • Papua New Guinea (PNG) can be roughly divided into highland, coastal and island peoples with significant mitochondrial DNA differentiation reflecting early and recent distinct migrations from Africa and East Asia, respectively. Infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV severely impact on the health of its peoples for which drug therapy is the major treatment and pharmacogenetics has clinical relevance for many of these drugs. Although there is generally little information about known single nucleotide polymorphisms in the population, in some instances, their frequencies have been shown to be higher than anywhere worldwide. For example, CYP2B6*6 is over 50%, and CYP2C19*2 and *3 are over 40 and 25%, respectively. Conversely, CYP2A6*9, 2B6*2, *3, *4 and *18, and 2C8*3 appear to be much lower than in Whites. CYP2D6 known variants are unclear, and for phase II enzymes, only UGT2B7 and UGT1A9 data are available, with variant frequencies either slightly lower than or similar to Whites. Although almost all PNG people tested are rapid acetylators, but which variant(s) define this phenotype is not known. For HLA-B*13:01, HLA-B*35:05 and HLA-C*04:01, the frequencies show some regioselectivity, but the clinical implications with respect to adverse drug reactions are not known. There are minimal phenotype data for the CYPs and nothing is known about drug transporter or receptor genetics. Determination of genetic variants that are rare in Whites or Asians but common in PNG people is a topic of both scientific and clinical importance, and further research needs to be carried out. Optimizing the safety and efficacy of infectious disease drug therapy through pharmacogenetic studies that have translation potential is a priority.


  • Tucci, Joseph D
  • Pumuye, Paul
  • Helsby, Nuala
  • Barratt, Daniel
  • Pokeya, Percy
  • Hombhanje, Francis
  • Somogyi, Andrew

publication date

  • 2018