Personalized Medicine: Innovation to Clinical Execution

By William H. Frist
October 5, 2012 | Commentary

With personalized medicine, researchers use extremely sophisticated data analysis to separate a large population of people who used to be treated uniformly into smaller, more discrete, “personalized clusters” of people who share some important physiology or biochemical variants that respond in different ways to a particular treatment.

Every day, we are gaining new knowledge about the role of genetic factors in common adult diseases including gallstones, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, skin cancer, prostate cancer, migraine headaches, obesity, mental retardation, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, and hearing loss. Just to take one example, Alzheimer’s disease alone affects 4 million Americans at a cost of $152 billion per year. The math quickly becomes significant when we consider the impact of improving the lives of just 10 percent of these patients by better understanding how they should be treated, how their version of the disease is different from other versions, and how to avoid side effects of medicines for the personalized characteristics of their disease.

 


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