A total personalized medicine approach might be far from becoming a definite reality in the U.S. at the moment, but the method, which could eliminate the current one-size fits all philosophy in administering care, is rapidly gaining ground.
From the discussions on Capital Hill about comparative research over studying disease affects on a general population, to greater effort and funding being put into molecular diagnostics- the case for personalized medicine is moving forward.
"We're seeing more interest and less skepticism toward [Personalized Medicine]," Ed Abrahams, executive director of the Personalized Medicine Coalition (Washington), told Diagnostics & Imaging Week. "We're clearly seeing movement . . . greater investments and a larger number of products available on the market."
Recently the Personalized Medicine Coalition (Washington) released the 2nd edition of its 2006 report, The Case for Personalized Medicine, in hopes to further bolster the need to truly turn to this method and perhaps to enter into the current healthcare discussion.
The robust report, which is a living document and subject to more changes in the future, remains true to its namesake and builds a case for personalized medicine, at a time when the nature and future of healthcare are center stage in what promises to be a contentious political debate.
"We hope that the [report] captures the attention of policy makers and that they see what they do now has an impact on healthcare," Abrahams said.
The report specifically focuses on where the country has come and where it could go given the current interest in personalized medicine. It also shows what advances have been made since the 2006 report was released.
Since that time, the number of prominent examples of personalized medicine treatments and diagnostics has increased from 13 products (69% of which were for cancer) to 37 products (56% of which are for cancer).
Some of those products such as Caris Diagnostics' (Irving, Texas) Target Now, an oncology testing service and Applied Biosystems' (Carlsbad,California) SOLiD system, which identifies methylation patterns across the genome, were discussed at length during the 100th annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR; Philadelphia) in Denver.
The report gives other real-world examples of personalized medicine in action and has insights from leading members of industry and government.
Geoffrey Ginsburg, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Genomic Medicine at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy (Durham, North Carolina), remarked on how such practices and approaches impacted research at Duke.
"Personalized medicine approaches are beginning to affect patients, researchers, and clinicians in very significant ways," Ginsburg said. "At Duke, we are conducting a series of genome-guided clinical trials that rely on the genomic fingerprints of disease to predict the best course of treatment for each patient with lung, prostate, and breast cancer. As described in this landmark report from the Personalized Medicine Coalition, such individualization of treatment will become more commonplace in coming years, leading to improvements in clinical outcomes."
Also included in the report:
• A guide to several clinical applications of personalized medicine and an at-a-glance table of 37 currently available molecular diagnostic tests and drug-diagnostic pairings that help target treatment.
• A review of technological advances enabling personalized medicine, such as new tools to decode the human genome, healthcare information technology to integrate research and clinical data, and large-scale studies finding new links between genetic variation and disease.
• An exploration of "personal genomics" and the impact of direct-to-consumer genetic testing.
• Listing of groundbreaking policy, legislation, and government initiatives in place and in development to support personalized medicine.
According to Abrahams the report how advances in science and technology can lead to meaningful improvements in patients' lives as well as contribute to healthcare reform in the future by improving quality and decreasing overall costs."
"We hope that within a decade and a half we won't be having this discussion because personalized medicine will be the standard of care." he said.