How is healthcare becoming more individualized?

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Last week, we took a look at how mobile healthcare apps can personalize healthcare in our blog post. While such apps represent an innovative way of measuring data and incentivizing a healthy lifestyle, there are also many other approaches to patient-tailored medicine that are currently being explored in the clinic.

In our podcast featured in Biome magazine and accompanying forum article in BMC Medicine, Daniel Hayes discusses the development of targeted therapy  in oncology, where treatments such as trastuzumab – an antibody drug against the HER2 protein – are given to those with certain cancer subtypes. Hayes emphasizes that genomic sequencing and “big data” approaches using electronic medical records will pave the way for more application of personalized medicine in the future of oncology.

The management of diabetes is also becoming more tailored towards the individual patient as a result of more drugs being available, as well as a greater understanding of the targets for treatment. In light of improvements in the genetics and pathophysiology of diabetes in recent years, David Leslie argues for a patient-tailored rather than a guideline-led approach for its management. Leslie concludes that:

                “…as we find more about the genetics that underline the process of diabetes, and as we identify more how one diabetic differs from another, so we will be able to identify drugs that are of specific value in that individual”

iStock PhotoTurning to neurology, Hugh Markus from Cambridge University discusses how results from genome-wide association studies are increasing our understanding of stroke pathogenesis, which could lead to the development of tailored treatments through pharmacogenomics in the future. However, Markus cautions that using genetics to predict stroke risk in individual patient may be less useful than looking at conventional risk factors such as smoking and high blood pressure.

These three specialists highlight how different areas of medicine are advancing in terms of individualized risk prediction, diagnosis and  treatment. BMC Medicine’s article collection on Personalized medicine: genes, biomarkers and tailored treatment remains open for submissions, and we look forward to publishing new studies demonstrating how personalized medicine is being applied across different therapeutic areas.

You can listen to our discussion with Daniel Hayes, David Leslie and Hugh Markus as part of our podcast on Personalized medicine: risk prediction, targeted therapies and mobile health technology here, and read about how healthcare is becoming more individualized in our forum article.