Personalized or precision medicine is a novel area of research and medicine that is based on an individualized approach to treatment. The Precision Medicine Initiative has stated this branch is “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person.” With both intra- and inter-individual variability, the use of personalized medicine aims to change the future of health care and health systems.
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Previously, cancers were treated as ‘one size fits all’, however, with individual differences at a molecular, physiological, and behavioral level, developing strategies for the treatment of an individual’s disease is critical for efficacy.
With the use of modern biomedical technologies including DNA sequencing, proteomics, wireless monitoring devices, and advancements in nanotechnology, inter-individual variations can be identified, paving the way for precision medicine to be fortified within healthcare systems.
Benefits of Personalized Medicine
This enhanced branch of medicine consists of further insight into the mutations held by an individual and what treatment and drug would be best suited to them.
An example of this consists of chemotherapy, with resistant cancers being a challenge for certain chemotherapy drug treatments, which can cause a patient to relapse. However, the use of personalized medicine approach can consist of a nucleic acid analysis of individual cells, and this can further the understanding of an individual’s disorder at a genomic level can ensure the most effective drug treatment is provided to patients, increasing the rate of success and positive prognoses.
This targeted method could also tackle the antibiotic resistance crisis as the high rate of broad-spectrum antibiotic prescriptions has resulted in resistance in patients that have pathogens that no longer respond to the treatment of antibiotics. The use of a personalized medicine strategy would aid in advanced diagnostics and provide physicians with insight into which drug treatments would be best suited to the individual; not only would this increase treatment success, but it would also reduce strain on healthcare systems from patients returning for the same disease due to ineffective treatments.
Challenges of Personalized Medicine
While personalized medicine strategies have significant benefits for prioritizing patient care, there are also challenges faced by this emerging branch of medicine and this will be outlined further.
The level of scrutiny for each individual patient when utilizing personalized medicine approaches can be difficult on a large scale and may be a challenge for gaining approval for routine use in regulatory agencies.
The obstacles to this advanced patient care strategy prove that this approach is more effective than conventional medical approaches. This can be a challenging task as tailored therapies such as autologous CAR-T cell transplant therapies for specific cancers as well as mutation-specific medicine may be high in cost in comparison to traditional treatment routes.
The expense of personalized medicine may not be significant enough to use as an alternative for traditional medicine strategies that can be universalized for a larger population number.
Other challenges also consist of researchers requiring a large sample of data to identify discriminatory factors between groups of individuals to evaluate therapeutic interventions and this could lead to data protection and data breach concerns.
Overall, the use of personalized medicine would advance the current strategies in traditional medicine which can be used to broadly diagnose and treat patients due to studies that illustrate benefit for the mass population. However, with individual differences at a genomic level, this method can be seen as being slightly antiquated; the role of medicine is to advance the health of patients and the incorporation of personalized medicine would effectively fulfill this role.
While there may be concerns and challenges that this targeted field of medicine faces, these obstacles can be overcome with innovative strategies. The retainment of large volumes of data occurs in most fields such as banking as well as the healthcare system and so in the event that personalized medicine is established, data protection concerns would require attention and strategies to prevent such an event.
Additionally, the advancement of medicine would benefit a global population and so the responsibility of development should be shared by industries, including governmental assistance in order to aid society as a whole and ensure patient health is held as the top priority.
Personalized medicine is the future of science and research aiding this development only further assists with health concerns from areas such as fertility to cancer therapies, which if solved would establish a healthier and more advanced population.
- Goetz, L. and Schork, N., 2018. Personalized medicine: motivation, challenges, and progress. Fertility and Sterility, 109(6), pp.952-963. Available at: DOI: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2018.05.006
- Drug Discovery and Development. 2022. Progress Toward Personalized Medicine - Drug Discovery and Development. [online] Available at: <https://www.drugdiscoverytrends.com/progress-toward-personalized-medicine/> [Accessed 11 February 2022].
- Who.int. 2022. Antimicrobial resistance. [online] Available at: <https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/antimicrobial-resistance> [Accessed 11 February 2022].
- Genetics, H. and Medicine, P., 2022. What is precision medicine?: MedlinePlus Genetics. [online] Medlineplus.gov. Available at: <https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/precisionmedicine/definition/> [Accessed 11 February 2022].