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The Rise Of Personalized Medicine

By Jeff Young, VP Editorial Services & Health-Care, MSLGROUP New York

In medicine, one size does not fit all. Two people who take different doses of the same medication may have very different responses. One may experience troublesome side effects, while the other has minimal or no side effects.

Of course, health-care professionals have always been alert to variations between patients. But scientific understanding has now grown to the point where physicians can individualize care at a whole new level. For example, scientists know which genes code for certain enzymes are responsible for breaking down more than 30 different classes of drugs. Less active or inactive forms of the enzymes can cause drug overdose in patients. Clinicians use a genetic test to see how long it takes a person to metabolize the drug, and come up with a proper dosage range to prevent potentially dangerous complications.

Drug safety is one of the forces driving innovation in personalized medicine. Another is improved outcomes. As scientists better understand the heterogeneity of tumor types, they develop new clinical responses to cancer. Instead of focusing on the organ in which a tumor appears, they find the genetic changes underlying an individual’s cancer and target those changes with specialized medicines.

TIME magazine recently reported that two companies will jointly market a new drug designed to interfere with the receptor that contributes to one-quarter of breast cancers.

Advancements in genomics have also led to a host of new diagnostic tests. The TIME article says a genetic test is heading to market that scans biopsies of early-stage tumors to determine if they are likely to spread – helping patients and doctors make informed, individualized treatment decisions.

Personalized medicine is transforming the business model for key healthcare stakeholders, creating strong incentives for companies to invest in genomic research. Many of our biotech and pharma clients are leading the charge. They understand the ROI from innovations that could offer better care at lower cost because conditions are predicted sooner, diagnosed more accurately and treated more effectively.

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Jeff Young is Vice President of Editorial Services and Health-Care at MSLGROUP in New York. As a senior medical writer and editorial consultant, Jeff specializes in interpreting complex data and fusing the science and brand imperatives into a compelling story.

Originally posted on MSLWorldwide Blog.

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