Personalized Medicine has been called the future cornerstone of medical treatment, and even though experts have warned against some of its most outlandish claims, having a more specific approach to patient treatment, especifically in the cancer field, could lead to improved treatments and smarter patients more aware of the responsibility in their health.
The US National Cancer Institute defines personalized medicine as one that uses personal and specific information from a patient like genes to diagnose and help treat a disease.
The institute lists as an example of personalized medicine in cancer treatment using “targeted therapies.” All of this to say that medicine is evolving to the stage where a regular remedy for all diseases isn’t the same driving force behind medication for patients.
It’s what people do with the information that matters
Writing for The Atlantic, Timothy Caulfield, a health law and policy professor at the University of Alberta, argued the actual promise of personalized medicine was the potential to “inspire behaviour change.”
“Having this genetic information isn’t inherently helpful; it’s what people do with the information that matters.”
Getting this particular information in the hands of patients in a comprehensible way has been a bit complicated according to medical officers, who have warned against the growth of popular genetic testing services online, not due to a false diagnosis but an unclear one.
Instead of learning a patient has a particular type of cancer, the patient can learn in their genes lies the possibility to get that cancer. So while they may not yet have the diseases patients can get on a medical path that will try to prevent it from happening.
Caulfield wrote that despite previous studies showing little to no change in patient once they were aware of their own genetic, it doesn’t discourage him as a massive change in the medical field for the future.
“[A] focus on personalized approaches to health may subtly shift responsibility away from social institutions and towards individuals.” Essentially a smarter patient, keenly aware of their genetics and their bodies, what may happen and what is happening to them.
Will this therapy work for me?
Edwards Abrahams, president of the Personalized Medicine Coalition told Genome Magazine patients were not yet asking their medical staff if the recommended treatment they received would work best for them.
“Patients are not yet asking the question ‘Is this therapy going to work for me?’ I look forward to the day patients do ask that question.”
In a 2013 report prepared by the US Food and Drug Administration said the agency needed to take a better look at patients demands when it came to personalized medicine.
“Our current lack of ability to predict and individual patient’s treatment success for most diseases and conditions means that clinicians have no choice but to follow a less than optimal approach to prescribing drugs and other treatment options,” the report stated.
Stat News reported the FDA approved Merck’s (NYSE:MRK) pembrolizumab (Keytruda) which represented the first time the agency had approved a candidate “for an indication based on the expression of specific biomarkers rather than the tumor’s location in the body.”
This approval means a massive advancement for the personalized medicine field which will see clinicians “use molecular tests to classify different forms of cancer based on the biomarkers they express, then choose the right treatment for it.”
This is an update to an article originally published on the Investing News Network in 2015.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no investment interest in any of the companies mentioned.