Personalized medicine has finally arrived—or has it?

February 26, 2014

As the price for decoding a person's DNA keeps dropping, expectations for personalized medicine based on specific genetic profiling rise. But translating an individual's genetic data into finely tailored medical treatments still faces major challenges, explains a new article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly magazine of the American Chemical Society.

Rick Mullin, senior editor at C&EN, notes that advances in DNA sequencing have allowed researchers to design some therapies, particularly in the cancer realm, for patients with certain genetic traits. As the technology for reading people's genes improves and drops even further in cost, more progress is on the horizon. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the government body responsible for approving pharmaceuticals for commercialization, supports these efforts. With the stars seemingly aligned, some industry experts have declared that the age of personalized has arrived. So why do others claim that victory is still a long way off?

The article points out that when pharmaceutical labs launched their search for new drugs based on genomics more than 15 years ago, the focus was almost exclusively on DNA sequences. But now researchers have realized that for personalized medicine to truly take hold, they need to also pay attention to individuals' health histories, their environments and how their genes actually translate into physical traits. This requires a shift in thinking, plus closer ties between the research and clinical sides, and ultimately, insurers. But perhaps the tallest barrier is cultural—an attitude among some in the health care industry to simply continue business as usual.

Explore further: A new genre of diagnostic tests for the era of personalized medicine

Related Stories

A new genre of diagnostic tests for the era of personalized medicine

July 26, 2012
A new genre of medical tests – which determine whether a medicine is right for a patient’s genes – are paving the way for increased use of personalized medicine, according to the cover story in the current ...

The '$1,000 genome' may cost $100,000 to understand

May 11, 2011
Advances in technology have almost lifted the curtain on the long-awaited era of the "$1,000 genome" — a time when all the genes that make up a person can be deciphered for about that amount – compared to nearly ...

Personalized medicine best way to treat cancer, study argues

February 24, 2014
If a driver is traveling to New York City, I-95 might be their route of choice. But they could also take I-78, I-87 or any number of alternate routes. Most cancers begin similarly, with many possible routes to the same disease. ...

Over 40 genetic links to rheumatoid arthritis discovered

December 25, 2013
A meta-analysis identifying 42 new genetic links to rheumatoid arthritis opens the door to increasing the medical tool box for the autoimmune disorder.

Recommended for you

Scientists provide insight into genetic basis of neuropsychiatric disorders

July 21, 2017
A study by scientists at the Children's Medical Center Research Institute at UT Southwestern (CRI) is providing insight into the genetic basis of neuropsychiatric disorders. In this research, the first mouse model of a mutation ...

Scientists identify new way cells turn off genes

July 19, 2017
Cells have more than one trick up their sleeve for controlling certain genes that regulate fetal growth and development.

South Asian genomes could be boon for disease research, scientists say

July 18, 2017
The Indian subcontinent's massive population is nearing 1.5 billion according to recent accounts. But that population is far from monolithic; it's made up of nearly 5,000 well-defined sub-groups, making the region one of ...

Mutant yeast reveals details of the aberrant genomic machinery of children's high-grade gliomas

July 18, 2017
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital biologists have used engineered yeast cells to discover how a mutation that is frequently found in pediatric brain tumor high-grade glioma triggers a cascade of genomic malfunctions.

Late-breaking mutations may play an important role in autism

July 17, 2017
A study of nearly 6,000 families, combining three genetic sequencing technologies, finds that mutations that occur after conception play an important role in autism. A team led by investigators at Boston Children's Hospital ...

Newly identified genetic marker may help detect high-risk flu patients

July 17, 2017
Researchers have discovered an inherited genetic variation that may help identify patients at elevated risk for severe, potentially fatal influenza infections. The scientists have also linked the gene variant to a mechanism ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.