Monday, 4 June 2012

How Close Are We To Personalising Medicine?

April Cashin-Garbutt, writing for the website has reviewed a little of our progress towards making use of whole genome sequence information that is currently in the process of becoming cheap enough for general use.

April's article is excellent and well worth reading for the average man in the street as it illustrates not only the enormous potential for managing our health when this becomes a reality for most people, but also how far we have already come with our current ability to sequence far smaller parts of our genomes. 

April demonstrates that we have already entered the era of personalised medicine as some treatments are already tailored to the individual needs of some cancer patients

> Quoting April's article

For some tailored medicine for cancer does already exist. A breast cancer drug called Herceptin is already known to work in patients with an overactive HER2 gene.
A knowledge of the genetic basis behind a cancer means that it can potentially be attacked more specifically. For example, in the breast cancers that overproduce HER2, a monoclonal antibody has been developed that causes selective killing of cancer cells, without affecting normal cells which do not overproduce HER2.
This extraordinary technology will gradually become commonplace, enhancing the efficacy of some drugs, minimising side effects of others (familiar to anyine being treated for aspergillosis), cutting waste of drugs that will be ineffective in some people and in the above case enabling the use of specialised drugs that will only be active in a specific group of patients - perhaps eventually down to the individual level in some cases. 

Ethical and moral considerations of Human Genome Research by Craig Venter

There are ethical considerations & objections to be taken in for account, and there is a discussion of some of these is in the above video, but the potential benefits are so huge for us all surely these will be settled.

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