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There's a new buzz word in medical care these days and it sure sounds good. You may have already come across it. It's called Personalized Medicine.

Here I thought all medicine was personal…

True enough because for the most part, medical care is delivered following a visit to the doctor. But that's not what personalized medicine is. It's treatment tailored to your exact illness and even your genetic makeup.

A way to understand this new approach is to look at how some cancer treatments are being delivered - specifically, breast cancer.

Depending on the type of breast cancer you have, there are different treatment protocols. For example some tumor cells express certain proteins on their surface and can indicate how the cancer will spread and what drugs may be most effective.

So, a physician can use these characteristics to design a cancer treatment plan that is individualized to the person and their disease. If you've noticed lately, cancer treatments are more likely to yield good results and people are living longer.

What makes personalized medicine powerful is the database that's being created in the process. As we learn more about breast cancer and how patients respond to different drugs, we are building a storehouse of knowledge to attack the disease. In fact, this has spawned a totally new biomedical discipline called medical informatics.

Medical informatics is a computational science that for example keeps track of the characteristics of tumor cells and treatment outcomes. So a physician can look at the type of tumor cells and predict which treatment has the highest probability of success.

It also takes into account your gene make up to see which disease you are more likely to develop. With information accumulating on a vast array of diseases, personalized medicine will become a powerful tool in disease fighting.

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For more information…

Personalized medicine: Tailoring treatment to your genetic profile.
This site provides a good general explanation of what "personalized medicine" is and the genetic basis for its use. It talks about types , barriers and benefits of this type of treatment.
For more information…

Pharmacogenomics: The Promise of Personalized MedicineThis is a journal article which presents a history of personalized medicine and provides many technical details as to the basis of the approach. This will be a challenging read for those without a science background but much of the information should be understandable to most.
For more information…

Personalized Medicine: The Emerging Pharmacogenomics Revolution
A 2005 monograph by Price Waterhouse Coopers that discusses personalized medicine from a drug development point of view. Excellent presentation and information.
For more information…

 
 

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