Seeing Mainstream Medicine Through a Personalized Lens
Education & Research Bold advancements in health care are transforming the practice of medicine by making it more tailored to, and effective for, the individual.
New technologies that provide comprehensive molecular level analyses of the molecules that make up our bodies are driving a revolution in medicine.
Examples are genomic analyses to characterize the DNA in our cells, proteomic and metabolomic analyses to measure hundreds of molecules in our blood and microbiomic analyses to determine the many species of bacteria that live in us and on us. We are increasingly able to correlate these very personal molecular profiles with your risk of disease, diseases you may have and whether treatments are actually working.
"Individuals are increasingly able to generate their own personal “data clouds” consisting of genomic, proteomic, metabolomic and microbiomic information"
Dramatic improvements in the understanding of human biology are also leading to more effective ways of treating disease and wearable devices are enabling new ways of monitoring health. Taken together these advances are revolutionizing the practice of medicine by providing heath care that is designed for you and the body you inhabit.
A lead example of the implementation of personalized medicine concerns the treatment of cancer. It is increasingly recognized that cancer should be treated according to the genetic profile of the cancer rather than whether it originates from a particular tissue such as breast, prostate or lung. Most major cancer centers in the U.S. and elsewhere are moving toward sequencing the genome of a patient’s cancer to find the genetic mutations that are driving the growth of the cancer. The drugs used to treat the cancer can then be targeted more specifically to inhibit the genes and gene products that are actually causing cancer.
A new approach
A second example concerns the pressing need to more accurately match drug prescriptions to the person taking the drug. More than 50 percent of prescribed drugs do not work on the person they are prescribed for and the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. is an adverse reaction to a prescribed drug. This is leading to the development and utilization of genetic tests to determine whether a prescribed drug will help a patient and not harm them.
Finally, personalized medicine is starting to allow well people to practice more effective preventive medicine. Individuals are increasingly able to generate their own personal “data clouds” consisting of genomic, proteomic, metabolomic and microbiomic information, for example. Analyses of these data clouds gathered over time will potentially allow the early detection of diseases ranging from cancer to diabetes to Alzheimer’s and provide definitive information as to whether drug therapies or changes in lifestyle, exercise or diet are having the desired effects.