The Importance of Personalizing Medicine

 

“Personalized medicine” is a medical concept that emphasizes the systematic use of a patient’s information to help select or optimize that patient's care. Traditionally, personalized medicine has been limited to the consideration of a patient's family history, social circumstances, environment and behaviors in tailoring individual care. However, future applications of this concept should leverage multi -omics information to help the treating physician provide "the right treatment for the right person at the right time."

Ongoing advances, including proteomic profiling, metabolomic analysis, and genetic testing, may allow for a greater degree of personalized medicine than is currently available. Another key attribute of this medical model is the development of “companion diagnostics”, whereby molecular assays that measure levels of proteins, genes or specific mutations are used to provide a specific therapy for an individual's condition by stratifying disease status, selecting the proper medication and tailoring dosages to that patient's specific needs.

An example of this in practice is in the use of the breast cancer drug Herceptin, which only an effective treatment for patients whose tumor expresses the protein Her2/Neu. Likewise, measurements of erbB2 and EGFR proteins in breast, lung and colon cancer patients are made prior to treatment selection to ensure maximum benefit. As this field advances, molecular information will be combined with an individual's personal medical history, imaging data, and family history, to help ensure the most effective treatment available is used for each patient.