It’s very exciting to see the ever changing landscape in medicine regarding a more “personalized” approach. For example, The Mayo Clinic in 2012 opened Individualized Medicine Clinics on all three of its campuses. They announced earlier this year that the “IM Clinic will also offer genomic testing for polymorphisms in drug-metabolizing enzymes and for genetic variants associated with increased cancer risk as well as DNA sequencing for inherited disease.” (http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/digestive-diseases/individualized-medicine-clinic-expands-services) Much of this personalized medicine is still extremely specialized, not available for the vast majority of the population – but the landscape is changing.
One of the important pieces to the personalized medicine puzzle is the incorporation of all genetic information (not just the genetic sequence, but up-to-date interpretations) into each person’s medical record. According to the above-referenced article, the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine (CIM) “will integrate drug-gene interactions into the patient electronic record, providing individualized, evidence-based support for clinicians prescribing narcotics and medications for psychiatric and cardiovascular disorders. Additional categories of drug-gene interactions will be added over time.” This is exactly where personalized medicine needs to go in order to become effective at preventing serious disease.
As the DNA sequencing technologies improve and become more affordable, and as the public and private databases compile more and more correlative data between sequence and disease, personalized preventive medicine will become more and more available. And with the right leaders in the field – those that are not only committed to the science, but the ethics of such endeavors – this will become the standard of health care and lead to longer more productive human lives. The landscape is indeed changing – I can’t wait to be a part of it!