Narrator: This is Science Today. The field of biopharmaceutical sciences is the interplay with biology and pharmaceutical agents. The main focus is how drugs affect different populations based on their genetics. Dr. Esteban Burchard of the University of California, San Francisco is studying how genetic differences affect asthma medication taken by Hispanic populations in this country.
Burchard: We believe that some of these genetic differences may help to explain differences in drug response and that's what's been coined pharmacogenetics.
Narrator: Burchard has found that when subjects of Puerto Rican background were compared to subjects of Mexican background, Puerto Ricans had much lower response to albuterol, the most commonly prescribed asthma medication, than Mexican children did.
Burchard: And that has significant implications because here you have a population that has the highest asthma prevalence, the highest asthma morbidity and the highest death rates, yet when Puerto Rican children reach for their inhaler and they don't get the same bang for their buck as any other child. And that, in our view, merits further exploration.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.