Personalized medicine, also known as precision medicine, is the practice of medicine that is uniquely tailored to each individual. Thanks to molecular biology and the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, personalized medicine has the potential to revolutionize the practice of medicine.
Medicine as Practiced Today
Care providers typically begin an exam by taking a medical history of patients and their immediate relatives. This is followed by “standards of care,” whereby patients are treated according to set protocols, which have been largely predetermined by clinical trials on cohorts. However, the field of genetics has the potential to change that. Through genetics and the study of genomics, medicine has the potential of becoming much more personalized. Through technology such as a custom microarray, biomarkers for disease conditions can be ascertained for each individual. This can lead to targeted therapy and even better preventative care.
The Importance of Genomics and Proteomics
Genomics is concerned with mapping all the genomes of an individual, which is their complete set of genes. This mapping includes the location, structure and function of each gene. Proteomics is concerned with much the same thing with regard to proteins. Through genomics and proteomics, it is possible to gain a new level of understanding of each individual’s risk of certain diseases that is much more in-depth than a written history.
Response to Medications
Advances in the field of molecular biology have the potential to change how care providers approach patient diagnosis, treatment, and even drug choices. The information gleaned from each patient’s genetic information could take pharmaceutical treatment to a whole new level of care. Targeted therapy may include information such as how each individual might respond to certain medications and specific dosages. This could alleviate painstaking trial and error and decrease complications and harmful side effects.
Because personalized medicine is targeted toward each patient, the potential for more effective medical treatment and prevention is greater than that of traditional western medicine. The future holds much promise for a medical approach that truly sees each individual as unique.