When you or I talk about medicines, we think about the conventional medical approach. But why does it happen that when we administer the same medication to two different patients, the response is not identical? Patients recover at different rates and even the side effects vary. The reason behind this mystery is probably in our genes.
Conventional medication typically observes, studies and analyzes the patient’s symptoms and his blood, tissue or other samples to identify and treat illnesses. So whether John is suffering from a disease or Jane is suffering from it, we would prescribe the same Medicine X (just alter the dosage based on the symptoms).
Personalised medicine or pharmacogenetics on the other hand, takes a very in-depth and granular route to solving each case. We look at the very composition and structure of both John and Jane by individually studying their molecular make-up and genome structure. Then, based on the findings of the study, we administer Medicine Y to John and Medicine Z to Jane. Hence, in totality, the approach is shifting from one-size-fits-all, to extremely customized treatment for each individual based on their own genetic signature!
- Better tailored and effective treatment – When you are administering tailor-made medication to each patient, its efficiency will increase and the threat of side effects will reduce to a large extent. Research has shown extremely different response of patients with genetic variations. Hence, you should tailor the medication of the patient to his genetic test results to make it most effective and safe.
- Helps predict and prevent diseases – When you have a patient under personalized medication, his genetic structure will help you keep an eye on probable diseases and ensure preventive care through observation of likely symptoms.
- Better cure for genetically embedded diseases – Personalized and genetic medication aims to better cure diseases which are triggered by genetic causes as much as by other factors. Typically, you will be able to offer specific treatment to individuals with ailments like diabetes, cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, etc., where genetics play a major role.
- Identifying which medicines won’t work – You can identify millions of genetic variations in patients using pharmacogenetics. This information can be used to identify drugs that are not effective on some patients while being effective on others. For e.g., researchers have identified the poor effectiveness of Plavin (a blood clotting medication) on patients with a common gene variant.
- A better understanding of combined effect of two or more medicines – It will help you understand the effectiveness of a particular medicine on a patient, who is also on some other medication simultaneously. A research study found that Tamoxifen (used to treat breast cancer) can be less effective if the patient is also taking Fluoxetine (used to treat hot flashes caused by the anti-cancer drug).
Facilitators of Personalized Medication
- Scientific researchers are using freely available genomic information from the public domain to find out new areas of application of current medicines. This can prove to be both a time saving and cost effective method of discovering new treatments.
- Some online shared databases are providing well organized information on drugs, diseases and genes to researchers of the scientific community. So you can avail these resources to conduct newer studies in this field.
- US FDA has started inclusion of pharmacogenetic information on some medicines. This will help you administer suitable and safe drugs to patients at an individual level.
Centuries ago, patients, were treated on the basis on symptoms only, and then came the era of conducting pathological tests. Now, the time is not far when we are able to give every single patient personalized medicine in the precise doze that his DNA calls for! So without any doubt, personalized medicine is definitely the road ahead for the pharma industry.
– Research Optimus