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Personalized Medicine

Updated: Feb 24, 2019

By Meghna Badami

Everybody is different #obvious. One’s genomics, living conditions, lifestyle choices and even diet makes one’s body unique. As a result, how can we use one formula of treatment to fit everyone? This is where personalized medicine comes in.

Personalized medicine attempts to shift away from the traditional ‘one size fits all’ approach and carefully analyze each individual’s health condition and offer most efficient mode of treatment. Though the idea may seem novel, the concept of personalized medicine is not new #muchintrigued. Doctors have been working to personalized care, tailored to people’s individual health needs, throughout the history of medicine, but never before has it been possible to predict how each of our bodies will respond to specific interventions, or identify which of us is at risk of developing an illness. With advances in technology, we can now sequence entire genomes and introduce wearables to aid us.

Think about it. If you have been given a pill that doesn’t quite have an effect, the physician will probably change the dose or give you another one. With Personalized Medicine, we don’t use the trial and error approach. We analyze a patient’s state of health beforehand to predict the disease and the kind of treatment.

Most technology behind personalized medicine analyzes fundamental biology like DNA, RNA and proteins #bio101. This not only helps us focus on the mutation or molecular basis of illness, but it also tells us how the patient will respond to a certain treatment plan.

Assessing a person’s genomics will also help us know how susceptible one is to a particular disease. For example, if DNA sequencing reveals that a person is at a higher risk of Type-2 Diabetes, he can start taking precautionary measures.

Looking through a pharmacological aspect, it will help us customize prescriptions, since not everyone’s body reacts to a drug in the same way. For example, some may be allergic to a particular drug, while others may respond to it in higher concentrations.

In addition to specific treatment, personalised medicine can help in preventive care. For instance, many women are already being genotyped for certain mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene #takenotes if they are predisposed because of a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer. As more causes of diseases are mapped out according to mutations that exist within a genome, the easier they can be identified in an individual. Measures can then be taken to prevent a disease from developing. Even if mutations were found within a genome, having the details of their DNA can reduce the impact or delay the onset of certain diseases. This can be extremely helpful in the case of Alzheimer's disease.

Cancer Genomics is also a promising field. Organizations like Foundation Medicine produce reports which looks at genes in individual patients' tumor biopsies and recommends specific drugs.

Personalized medicine is indeed the diagnostic and treatment tool of the future. With bioinformatics and genomics developing at a rapid rate, every individual can get custom tailored treatment ensuring most effective recovery and prevention.



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