Armed with the decoded human genome, drug researchers and clinicians are working to close the gap between patient and therapy.
"Precision medicine" refers to the tailoring of medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient. It does not literally mean the creation of drugs or medical devices that are unique to a patient but rather the ability to classify individuals into subpopulations that differ in their susceptibility to a particular disease or their response to a specific treatment. Preventive or therapeutic interventions can then be concentrated on those who will benefit, sparing expense and side effects for those who will not.
Precision medicine may be considered an extension of traditional approaches to understanding and treating disease, but with far greater specificity. A profile of a patient's genetic variation and other unique characteristics can guide the selection of drugs or treatment protocols that minimize harmful side effects or ensure a more successful outcome. It can also indicate susceptibility to certain diseases before they become manifest, allowing the physician and patient to set out a plan for monitoring and prevention.
Physicians can now go beyond the "one size fits all" model of medicine to make the most effective clinical decisions for individual patients.
Substantial progress has been made towards the implementation of precision medicine. When all of the pieces of infrastructure fall into place; when we begin to classify and treat diseases not just by their most obvious signs and symptoms, but also by their molecular profiles; when physicians combine their knowledge and judgment with a network of linked databases that help them interpret and act upon a patient's genomic information; when insurance companies pay for tests and treatments that anticipate the needs of the patient as much as react to them; and when regulators insist on using all information available to the physician, including genetic tests, to ensure the safety and efficacy of an approved drug, then "precision medicine" will be known, simply, as medicine.
Silicon Genomics will play a significant role by providing advanced technological tools to researchers that will transform the way that preventive and therapeutic treatments are discovered.