No two people are alike, no two diseases are alike and whilst it is still very early days, personalised medicine is the revolution in patient treatment that will change the way every individual is treated.
It means means matching the right therapy to the right patient, and it will improve health care for each individual and reduce medical costs to society.
Personalised medicine is the customisation of healthcare using molecular analysis - with medical decisions, practices, and/or products being tailored to individual patients.
It is patient-centred and helps doctors determine if a patient will respond positively to a drug before it is administered.
As individuals we each have our own unique variation of the human genome. Your genome is in essence all the ‘genetic stuff’ that defines your unique biology.
Technology now available to us allows the identification and confirmation of an individual’s basic biology, DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), or protein, which ultimately leads to confirming disease.
The use of personalised medicine techniques such as genome sequencing can reveal mutations in DNA that lead to diseases ranging from cystic fibrosis to cancer and the technique known as RNA-seq shows which RNA’s are involved with specific diseases. Unlike DNA, levels of RNA change in response to the environment therefore; sequencing RNA can reveal a greater understanding of a person’s health.
Most of the research currently taking place in this field is with late-stage cancer patients and drugs - but personalised medicine will evolve to other chronic diseases. We are truly just at the tip of the iceberg.
I was recently interviewed by the media on this very topic and I shared my own personal experience with them and I would also like to share this with you.
My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer at age almost 90 … and because of personalised medicine they found a drug specifically for that type of cancer, so she was able to take the right drug with very little toxicity. Five years ago she would have either taken something really toxic or be dead.
We can think of personalised medicine as evidence-based medicine - we are able to make choices for each individual based on the evidence we have gathered.
At Centenary our Bioinformatics group uses computational analysis of large complex data sets and represents this data in new and unique ways. Bioinformatics is essential to the development of personalised approaches in medicine.
Bioinformatics is often referred to as the future of biology research and there is no doubt that Bioinformatics is accelerating our research outcomes and drawing us closer to personalised medicine for us all.
In addition, our genomics facility at Centenary contributes to our capacity to gain a better understanding of the molecular basis of cancer, cardiovascular and infectious diseases helping to develop new therapies and enhancing our research in personalised medicine.
To answer the question – what does personalised medicine mean for you and I? – it means there will be greater outcomes for patients, less patients affected by side-effects from treatments and reduced costs to the community.
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