Personalized medicine could transform healthcare

Biomed Rep. 2017 Jul;7(1):3-5. doi: 10.3892/br.2017.922. Epub 2017 Jun 2.


Personalized medicine (PM) is about tailoring a treatment as individualized as the disease. The approach relies on identifying genetic, epigenomic, and clinical information that allows the breakthroughs in our understanding of how a person's unique genomic portfolio makes them vulnerable to certain diseases. PM approach is a complete extension of traditional approach (One-Size-Fits-All) to increasing our ability to predict which medical treatments will be safe and effective for individual patient, and which ones will not be, based on the patient's unique genetic profile. Implementation of PM has the potential to reduce financial and time expenditure, and increase quality of life and life extension of patients. Knowledge of PM facilitates earlier disease detection via enhanced use of existing biomarkers and detection of early genomic and epigenomic events in disease development, particularly carcinogenesis. The PM approach predominantly focuses on preventative medicine and favours taking pro-active actions rather than just reactive. This approach delays or prevents the need to apply more severe treatments which are usually less tolerated and with increased quality of life and financial considerations. Increasing healthcare costs have placed additional pressure on government funded healthcare systems globally, especially regarding end of life care. PM may increase the effectiveness of existing treatments and negate the inherent problems associated with non-PM approaches. PM is a young but rapidly expanding field of healthcare where a physician can select a treatment based on a patient's genetic profile that may not only minimize harmful side effects and guarantee a more successful result, but can be less cost effective compared with a 'trial-and-error' approach to disease treatment. The less efficient non-PM ('trial-and-error') approach, which can lead to drug toxicity, severe side effects, reactive treatment and misdiagnosis continue to contribute to increasing healthcare costs. Increased patient stratification will allow for the enhanced application of PM and pro-active treatment regimens, resulting in reduced costs and quality of life enhancement.

Keywords: personalized medicine; tailored therapy; target therapy.