Moving Personalized Medicine from the Lab to the Marketplace

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Moving Personalized Medicine from the Lab to the Marketplace

One of the most monumental advances in medical science occurred in 2003, when the first complete mapping of the human genome was achieved.  For the first time in history, we had within our grasp the details of the code that tells us what goes into making a human being.

This set off a burst of activity in research and development, with scientists seeking products and therapies that promise to completely revolutionize the way medicine is practiced.  In short, we are poised on the brink of "the era of personalized medicine," in which the very molecular makeup of an individual patient will help direct treatment — and often detect and stop diseases even before any symptoms occur. 

A genetic profile of each patient will guide doctors in diagnosing and treating them in ways that will be far more effective and far less likely to produce unwanted side effects. 

Although in its infancy, personalized medicine is already a reality now.  It provides a model for efficient, evidence-based healthcare, relying on a network of computerized health records that incorporate molecular information about each patient. 

This will help physicians make the most accurate diagnosis and provide the most appropriate treatment, according to a white paper from The Personalized Medicine Coalition,1 a group of companies and research institutions devoted to promoting personalized medicine.

Among the developments going on today are these: 

  • Many hospitals and other medical centers in the U.S. have already publicly declared their intention to practice personalized medicine. 
  • Personalized medicine is becoming the accepted standard of care in the medical community.
  • Regulations are beginning to appear that require genetic testing for certain drugs to avoid harmful side effects and improve the effectiveness of those drugs.
  • Likewise, Big Pharma now routinely uses genetic information in developing its drugs to ensure safety and efficacy. 
  • Therapies based on personalized medicine are now being used to treat patients with cancer, cardiovascular disease, infection, transplant medicine, and mental illness.
  • Medical schools around the nation are beginning to offer training in medical practice based on genomics. 
  • Insurance firms have begun to pay for genetic testing, while the American Association of Health Plans encourages it as a matter of policy. 
  • A genetic privacy law has already been passed to protect patient information. 

While that is all encouraging news, there are still some economic and scientific hurdles to overcome, according to a study recently published in The McKinsey Quarterly...

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