The movement is subtle for the average patient—perhaps imperceptible—but it will ultimately affect the entire landscape of healthcare. Since the mapping of the human genome in 2003, the pace of discovery, product development and clinical adoption of personalized medicine has accelerated.
Personalized medicine may be considered an extension of traditional approaches to understanding and treating disease, but with greater precision. The profile of a patient’s genetic variation can guide the selection of drugs or treatment protocols that minimize harmful side effects or ensure a more successful outcome. It can also indicate susceptibility to certain diseases before they manifest, allowing the physician and patient to create plan for monitoring and prevention. Physicians can now go beyond the “one size fits all” model of medicine to make the most effective clinical decisions for individual patients.
It is far more important to know what person the disease has than what disease the person has – Hippocrates
Personalized medicine has delivered on promises to refine diagnoses and guide optimum treatment protocols while avoiding unnecessary side effects.
- Preventive, coordinated and evidence-based, personalized medicine offers a structural model of efficiency. It relies on a network of electronic health records linking clinical and molecular information to help patients and physicians make optimal treatment decisions.
- Personalized medicine is also proactive and participatory, engaging patients in lifestyle choices and active-health maintenance to compensate for genetic susceptibilities.
- Personalized medicine is the customization of healthcare – with medical tests, decisions, and therapies being tailored to the individual patient.
- Personalized medicine is a multi-faceted approach to patient care that not only improves our ability to diagnose and treat disease, but offers the potential to optimize health by detecting disease at an earlier stage, when it is easier to treat effectively.
In personalized care, our approach relies on scientific breakthroughs that support understanding each person’s unique molecular (metabolomics) and genetic (genome) profile.
Equipped with diagnostic tests, which are more precise, we can select a therapy or treatment based on a patient’s molecular profile that will optimize health, minimize harmful side effects and ensure a more successful outcome.
- Advanced Cardiovascular Testing – Highly advanced testing of lipid profiles, including cholesterol particle numbers, inflammatory markers and genetic markers help predict patients at higher risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
- Metabolomics Testing – We are able to measure the effects of environment and nutrition on health now more than every before. By testing for metabolites, we can determine if our patients’ bodies are missing nutrients, are overloaded with toxins or determine how effectively the gut is working (microbiome).
- Genetic Testing – Whether determining a current illness, predicting risk for future health issues or assessing how a patient will respond to medications and therapies, Genetic Testing is at the core of Personalized Medicine.
- Hormone Testing – Determining endocrine function sheds a great deal of light on how well the body is working, and balancing hormones promotes health and wellness.
- Cancer Screening – Early detection of cancer equates to success of cancer treatment. We will continue to utilize diagnostic testing and procedures to optimize a patient’s health and guide treatment if needed.
When will “personalized medicine” be known simply as medicine?
- When all of the pieces of infrastructure fall into place.
- When we begin to classify and treat diseases not just by their most obvious signs and symptoms, but also by their molecular profiles.
- When physicians combine their knowledge and judgment with a network of linked databases that help them interpret and act upon a patient’s genomic information.
- When insurance companies pay for tests and treatments that anticipate the needs of the patient as much as react to them.
- When regulators insist on using all information available to the physician, including genetic tests, to ensure the safety and efficacy of an approved drug.
By Paul Savage, MD, FAARM, ABAARM
Founder and Chief Medical Officer, Power2Practice