Personalized Medicine - Essay Example

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The National Human Genome Research Institute has provided a definition of personalized medicine as “an emerging practice of medicine that uses an individual's genetic profile to guide decisions made in regard to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. …
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Personalized Medicine Personalized Medicine The National Human Genome Research Institute has provided a definition of personalized medicine as “an emerging practice of medicine that uses an individual's genetic profile to guide decisions made in regard to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. Knowledge of a patient's genetic profile can help doctors select the proper medication or therapy and administer it using the proper dose or regimen” (National Human Genome Research Institute, 2012, par. 1). Concurrently, the Personalized Medicine Coalition defined the term as it “uses new methods of molecular analysis [and predictive modeling] to better manage a patient’s disease or predisposition toward a disease. It aims to achieve optimal medical outcomes by helping physicians and patients choose the disease management approaches likely to work best in the context of a patient’s genetic and environmental profile” (Personalized Medicine Coalition, 2010, par. 1). It also cited the definition from the President’s Council on Advisors on Science and Technology, as referring “to the tailoring of medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient…to classify individuals into subpopulations that differ in their susceptibility to a particular disease or their response to a specific treatment. Preventative or therapeutic interventions can then be concentrated on those who will benefit, sparing expense and side effects for those who will not” (Personalized Medicine Coalition, 2010, par. 4). It can therefore be deduced that personalized medicine uses genetic profiling, methods of molecular analysis, and distinct medical interventions that are tailored to the characteristics of each patient. In an article written by Stimson (2009), the author recognized the broadness of the term and the vast field of medical and health professions that delve into the subject. As such, she presented a list of Web resources that could provide relevant information on the “concepts, terminology, projects, databases, tools, and stakeholders related to personalized medicine” (Stimson: Abstract, 2009, par. 1). How Modern Genetic Technology May Lead to Personalized Medicine The National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) has provided the explanatory information that relates genetic technology to personalized medicine. It initially presented an overview of how medicine previously manifested the use of a “one-size-fits-all” approach where doctors were observed to start “with standard doses, and then observed how patients responded. If necessary, doctors changed the doses or drugs by a "trial and error" process” (NIGMS, 2012, par. 1). With the help of advances in medical technology, more in-depth discoveries on the role of genetics in the preponderance and treatment of illnesses signficantly assist in theories and concepts of personalized medicine. As such, modern genetic technology through specialized fields such as pharmacogenetics or pharmacogenomics provide accurate information on how different individuals with distinct genetic compositions respond differently to medications and treatments. The NIGMS (2012) has revealed that “scientists have identified more than 3 million genetic variations, many of which may relate to disease risk or drug responses. Researchers are starting to use this information to predict whether a medicine might be effective, ineffective, or toxic in certain individuals. For example, researchers recently linked a common gene variant to poor effectiveness of an anti-clotting medicine, Plavix” (NIGMS, 2012, par. 6). Benefits of Personalized Medicine The works of the National Institute of Health’s (NIH) Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN) have been instrumental in understanding the genetic frameworks for individual responses to medications. As emphasized, “thanks to the work of PGRN researchers and others, several pharmacogenetic tests are now available. These tests can help doctors design the best treatment for patients with childhood leukemia, breast cancer, and heart disease. More tests are expected in the future, including those for drugs to treat asthma and depression” (NIGMS, 2012, par. 7). Another example would be in “the use of the Her2/neu gene as a predictor of breast cancer patients' responses to a drug called Herceptin. Her2/neu codes for a protein receptor (the Her2 receptor) that plays an important role in the signal transduction pathways involved with cell growth and differentiation… women with advanced breast cancer are routinely tested for Her2/neu overexpression before any decisions are made about whether to prescribe Herceptin versus some other drug, because as good as Herceptin might be, to use Hippocrates' words, "the sweet ones do not benefit everyone”” (Pray, 2008, p. 1). This example thereby proves that before prescribing the Herceptin drug, through personalized medicine and genetic technology, a more accurate type of medicine is identified that would lessen the negative effects of the previous drug, had it been given as a general intervention treatment. Drawbacks and Limitations From among the challenges, drawbacks and limitations noted on personalized medicine, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI) (2008) are enumerating the following: “(1) educating doctors and patients about the goals and limitations of personalized medicine; (2) reorienting the pharmaceutical industry to develop and market drugs for relatively small populations: (3) designing clinical trials to maximize the possibilities offered by personalized medicine; (4) developing diagnostic tests with sufficient sensitivity and specificity and adopting appropriate regulatory mechanisms to ensure the tests’ clinical validity: (5) protecting the privacy of individuals when genetic tests indicate an elevated risk for future disease; (6) addressing health care disparities; and (7) encouraging health insurance companies to cover new treatments based on personalized medicine” (AAAS; FDLI, 2008). References American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); Food and Drug Law Institute (FDLI). (2008, June 20). Personalized Medicine: Promises and Challenges. Retrieved August 4, 2012, from National Human Genome Research Institute. (2012, July 30). Personalized Medicine. Retrieved August 3, 2012, from National Institute of General Medical Sciences. (2012, January 30). Personalized Medicines Fact Sheet. Retrieved August 4, 2012, from Personalized Medicine Coalition. (2010). Personalized Medicine. Retrieved August 3, 2012, from About The Personalized Medicine Coalition (PMC): Pray, L. (2008). Personalized medicine: Hope or hype? . Nature Education, Vol. 1, 1. Stimson, N. (2009, December). Personalized medicine: selected Web resources. Retrieved August 4, 2012, from Read More
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