Updated: Jun 7, 2021
Personalized medicine has a fairly broad definition, but, essentially, personalized medicine is the tailoring of medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient. It is a new emerging practise of medicine that uses an individual's genetic profile to guide decisions made in regard to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease.
We are similar, in a way but also different. Every person has a unique variation of the human genome. Although most of the variation between individuals has no effect on health, an individual's health stems from genetic variation with behaviors and influences from the environment. Personalized medicine is focused on our genetic code - genomics. By reading and knowing all the 'genetic alphabet' of a person, it makes it easier for making individual predictions about disease risk that can help somebody choose a prevention plan that is right for them. It also allows the possibility in some instances of picking the right drug at the right dose for the right person instead of the "one size fits all" approach to drug therapy.
Hippocrates, the father of the medicine, was tailoring the treatment for his patients, and that dates back to his time, 5th century. The term has risen in usage in recent years given the growth of new diagnostic and informatics approaches that provide understanding of the molecular basis of disease, particularly genomics. This provides a clear evidence base on which doctors and clinicians can stratify (group) related patients. With the advance genetic technology, we are now able to sequence the human genome, thanks to the Human Genome Project, that started in 1990 and it was completed 13 years later in April 2003.
Personalized medicine is evolving pretty fast these days, thanks to modern technology advances that can read and confirm patient's fundamental biology which is pretty amazing. It gives us informations about DNA, RNA, or proteins. The most used technique nowadays is the genome sequencing which is a personalized technique, and it reveals the frame of all the amino acids bases and paris. The mutations that can occur in the genetic code, and our capability of reading them and knowing what they mean, influence diseases ranging from cystic fibrosis to cancer.
In other words, if there is some error in the genetic code, now it is easy to find it. Once you have founded it, it is easier to look for a sp
ecific drug or a treatment, weather to visit multiple different doctors still looking for a diagnose.
With these precise tools, and many more in the near future, the exciting and promising outcome is here for the patients and the doctors too. This new era of personalized medicine, which is extending the traditional approaches, forces us to think differently about the disease, to identify it and to cure it.
Some of the strengths of personalized medicine are:
Risk Assessment: In order to do risk assessment, the patient does a genomic testing to reveal his predisposition to a disease
Prevention: Epigenetics /Lifestyle medicine habits/ Behavior
Detection: The early detection is one of the most important keys in every diseases. With personalized medicine, you get it on a molecular level
Diagnosis: Right diagnose that is accurate and true. This level gives opportunity for going on the next level - personalized treatment strategy
Treatment: Improved outcomes through targeted treatments and reduced side effect
Real-world demonstrations currently showing how PM is:
Traditional medicine is more focused on reaction and treatment. PM is focused on prevention.
One size fits all prescribing drugs is not something acceptable in PM. Avoiding side effects by avoiding adverse drug reactions.
With this approach, the cost of clinical trials is reduced
Re-inventing drugs, that were not approved in the past. With new genomics technology, making them better, more specific and selecting them for a select population
Preventive medicine is reducing the overall cost of healthcare
I am happy that's as a medical doctor, with a special interest in genetics and immunology, I will be a witness in a new era. That is why I am trying to be the pioneer in these personalized health consultation. With all the research and precision tools available, we can come to the root of the disease. Then, cure it with drugs, immunotherapy, behaviour, lifestyle medicine, because now another genetics branch is emerging called epigenetics - that says that changes in the DNA are reversible, but for that in another blog!
Lots of work to do here, but maybe the biggest revolution in medicine in a very long time :)