Building the Foundation for Personalized Medicine

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Building the Foundation for Personalized Medicine

One of the enduring mysteries of medicine is how individual genes, environment and lifestyle combine to spark disease or protect us from it. Unraveling this puzzle remains essential for scientists hoping to achieve the elusive goal of offering tailored treatments and personalized prevention plans. And, until recently, this remained, at best, a far-distant dream.

For millennia there were few, if any, treatments for most conditions. In fact, it has been less than a century since we discovered antibiotics, vaccines, blood transfusions, and reliable anesthesia. And, even though we’ve experienced explosive growth in therapeutic solutions, physicians are still ill-equipped to ensure that treatments will be given only to those with a high likelihood of benefitting.   

But, ever since the beginning of the human genome project nearly 30 years ago, forward-looking researchers have dreamed of combining genetics, big data, and statistical analyses to create “personalized precision medicine.” Like so many of the life-changing breakthroughs described in Ride the Wave, the “personalized health and wellness paradigm” arises not from a single breakthrough, but from the multi-disciplinary intersection of multiple digital technologies. In this case, we’re talking about

  • genomics;
  • body-worn sensors;
  • data science;
  • computational physiology;
  • individually customized health assistance; and, when necessary
  • highly-targeted medical treatments, all coming together at once.

This dramatic health revolution is enabled by the vastly reduced time and cost of reading and analyzing our genomes coupled with huge quantities of inexpensive computer power that will soon allow health care providers to make precise predictions about each person’s future health, based on their genetic makeup and life experiences.

The objective is to select the most effective and least risky set of solutions for each person at each stage-of-life. The result will be longer, healthier, more productive lives. And, over the long run, that means lower health care costs, coupled with greater happiness for more people.

The foundation of precision personalized medicine is an enormous and ever-growing genomic and medical history database. Ideally, this anonymized database will eventually include every American, and maybe, every human being. But in the near term, researchers expect to achieve enormous breakthroughs starting with a much smaller sample size.

With that in mind, in 2015, President Obama become a paid subscriber for full access.
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