Personalized Medicine ? Pipe Dream or Certainty

Posted by adairsawyer on June 19th, 2013

Pharmacogenomics is the technology that analyses how the genetic material of an individual affects his or her response to drugs. It combines the knowledge of pharmacology and that of genomics. It deals with the influence of genetic variation on drug response in patients. In doing this, it intends to develop the means to optimize drug therapy, with respect to the patients' genotype, to ensure maximum efficacy with minimal adverse effects. These efforts advertise the advent of personalized medicine, in which drugs and drug combinations are uniquely optimized for each individual's unique genetic makeup.

Pharmaceutical and biotech companies are working towards the future of personalized medicine - the personalized treatment and diagnosis of disease. What the past and the present teach us is that the universal approach to medicine hasn't proved to be the best solution yet. Scientific research doesn't yet take into account the influence of genes on an individual's health and well-being. This new paradigm in medicine, pharmagenomics, has the potential to greatly improve on the way healthcare is are managed, especially in the matters of the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

Pharmaceutical experts argue that personalized medicine offers many benefits over the traditional approach. The first one is improved diagnosis and early detection of disease – especially diseases that have been genetically linked between generations or risk factors that are known to be inherited. Furthermore, this information allows for efficient drug development, knowing exactly how the liver metabolizes certain drug components, which in turn results in more accurate and cost-effective therapies, tailor-made based on individual genetic backgrounds without the need to cover as wide a base as possible to ensure compatibility.

Pharmacogenomics has quite a lot of applications in illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorders, HIV, tuberculosis, asthma, and diabetes. In cancer and cardio vascular disorders treatment, tests can identify which patients are most likely to respond to certain cancer drugs. In behavioral health, pharmacogenomic tests afford tools for physicians and care givers to more effectively manage medication selection and eschew side effects or at least provide amelioration of side effects. Presently, many people take medications called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, for a host of psychiatric disorders, and many of the medications are metabolized by enzymes whose activity can be identified through testing. In many patients these drugs do not work, or are assimilated more slowly, and these tests can make sure that the optimal drugs are used in each case.

All in all, pharmacogenomics allows physicians to improve the quality of health care through precise diagnostics and personalized medicine, saving valuable time and money spent on unnecessary tests or ineffective treatments while providing patients with a better experience through better assimilation and less side effects.

The field of customizing drug therapies based on an individual's DNA, known as pharmacogenomics, is only in its infancy right now. But as time passes and more and more positive results emerge, personalized medicine will become standard practice.


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