Precision medicine is an innovative medical practice that suggests the customisation of healthcare, with individualized treatments, therapies, practices, or items being tailored to an ethnic group of patients, rather than a single one. This is accomplished through the use of molecular genetic engineering technologies and application of well-known principles of biology. The goal is to use genes for specific purposes that will lead to the prevention or treatment of disease by working closely with the patient’s natural defenses to assure that they are able to cope with whatever challenge that might arise.
The practice has been around for many years, but its true potential is realized in precision medicine clinics that serve specific ethnic groups or socio-economic classes. For example, many years ago, the American Diabetes Association sought to design diagnostic tests that would not require the chronic diabetics’ blood sugar levels to be extremely high, which in turn could lead to the inevitable rejection of their insulin injections. Ultimately, the testing proved successful, and the society as a whole saw a new way of dealing with an increasing number of diabetes patients. The genetic makeup of each individual is irrelevant when it comes to the handling of disease; rather, the genetic makeup of each individual’s immune system is what determines whether or not they will respond to a certain type of treatment.
In addition to diabetes, the practice of precision medicine also deals with other autoimmune diseases, such as Lupus, multiple sclerosis, and allergies. All of these diseases share common symptoms: inflammation, pain, compromised energy, and compromised health. In fact, all of these problems can be treated by applying a personalized approach to treatment based on the genetic changes that cause these problems. This results in more personalized care for patients and increased quality of life for those who suffer from these conditions.
In the past, the treatments for autoimmune diseases relied solely on trial and error to determine how each patient would react to a specific drug. With precision medicine, doctors are able to take into account the results of genetic tests, which in turn help them treat each patient based on their own unique response to the disease. Because of this potential to identify even the smallest genetic differences, precision medicine holds a great promise in helping to successfully treat autoimmune disease. Once these tests are available, many of the diseases that currently plague mankind can be dealt with in a much more personalized fashion.
But precision medicine isn’t just about disease prevention. There are also a number of physical conditions that can be detected early and treated using similar methods. This includes pregnancy, which is often a difficult time for women. Through precision medicine, prenatal tests can be preformed to detect gestational diabetes and provide treatment before the baby is born. This can help minimize the chances of having to deliver the child prematurely, potentially reducing costs and stress for the mother and infant.
When it comes to certain genetic changes that can cause cancer, precision medicine can play a significant role in diagnosing and treating many types of cancers. Through DNA testing, cancer sufferers are able to find out whether or not they have certain genetic changes that make them more likely to develop certain cancers. Through the testing of blood samples, medical professionals are able to determine the risks and help patients find the most effective treatment route for themselves and their cancers.
Of course, no treatment is perfect. As with any type of disease, some treatments are better than others. That is why some of the best cures are those that focus on precision medicine. Through careful analysis of patients’ DNA, medical professionals can search through thousands of databases to identify the exact molecular abnormalities that a patient may have. Once a patient is found to have a certain disorder, certain diagnostic procedures can be performed to pinpoint the exact disorder that the patient has, allowing for the proper medical treatment. For example, by performing genetic testing on patients who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, researchers have been able to design precision treatments that target each of the main sclerosis medications.
Because precision oncology is still in its early stages, there are still many unanswered questions surrounding the field. However, as the accuracy of certain tests like DNA testing increases and more precision is achieved, the future looks bright for patients suffering from various types of diseases. As new drugs and treatments become available, more people will be able to receive the care and assistance they need. For this reason, precision oncology is one of the most promising subspecialties in modern cancer therapy.
The Ashley lab based at Stanford University is focused on the science of precision medicine. The lab studies the human genome and apply computational approaches like machine learning to understand the integrated effects of genes and proteins on human health and disease. We are particularly interested in the extremes of human performance.