Is Personalized Medicine the Future of Healthcare?
Personalized medicine is still in its infancy, however, the future of this approach holds great potential within the field of healthcare.
Previous medical approaches have been based upon a policy of “one size fits all”, applying the same treatments to those with the same diseases. However, this has many limitations as there are a whole range of disease contributing factors, including genetics and environments, which affect the efficacy of certain medications.
Through genome analysis, scientists can personalize drugs to make them more specific and effective, thereby improving treatment outcomes. However, there are several drawbacks to this approach. This article aims to discuss the pros and cons of personalized medicine and assess its possible future roles.
Advantages of personalized medicine
There are many advantages to the applications of personalized medicine within healthcare. Firstly, this approach can be used to detect and diagnose diseases in a highly specific manner, categorizing them by genetic variation rather than by symptom. This allows treatments which are increasingly specific and effective, improving the prognosis of many.
For example, melanomas which have a specific mutation in the BRAF gene can be targeted by a highly specific, BRAF-targeting drug. Typical treatment for melanomas are not viable in these patients, and therefore this treatment dramatically increases prognosis.
Additionally, genomic analysis can reveal genetic variations which can guide drug dosage, meaning that patients can get maximal drug benefit with minimal side effects. This has been applied to a whole range of diseases so far, such as cancer, mental illness and inflammatory bowel disease.
One such example is the detection of specific variations within CYP450 genes. There are many different variations of these genes, which are involved in the metabolism of a whole plethora of drugs. Therefore, identification of specific gene variants allows the prescription of drugs at effective levels, whilst minimizing harmful side effects.
Another application of personalized medicine is within the prevention of disease. Using sequencing technologies, susceptibility to disease can be analysed, allowing a focus upon prevention with both treatments and lifestyle changes.