Personalized Medicine: Custom-made patient healthcare

Genomically, we are more than 99 percent alike but separated, on average, by millions of genetic variations. The key is in finding which variants are harmless and which ones pose real dangers. This is where Personalized Medicine comes in.

The concept of Personalized Medicine is defined by genetics, using the customisation of medical treatment based on an individual’s genetic profile. Over time, Personalized Medicine evolved to include other variables unique to an individual, such as environment and lifestyle. Personalized Medicine flips the script on conventional medicine.

Traditional medicine is based on identifying therapies that target entire populations. However, Personalized Medicine is tailoring treatment according to the unique molecular or genetic mapping of an individual patient and understanding how these unique features contribute to the occurrence of certain disease patterns and progression.

Let’s review a few examples of how Personalized Medicine is applied in healthcare.

Personalized Medicine in cancer treatment and pharmacology

Cancer treatment

Following major biological insights and medical advances, personalized medicine is fast becoming a common approach in cancer treatment.

All cancers have a genetic base. Today, with the availability of a genomic or molecular diagnosis, we can better understand the genetic base of cancer.

This genetic information can help select the most effective treatment, greatly improving the chances of survival. This approach is used in a wide range of cancers such as melanoma, leukaemia, colon, brain and breast cancers.

This genetic understanding means that healthcare providers can stratify cancer patients according to what will be most effective for their condition. It may also mean that patients with different types of cancer may, on the basis of the genomic diagnosis, receive similar treatments.

Pharmacology

Pharmacogenomics is the use of genetic testing to guide drug treatment. An example is the treatment of HIV using the drug abacavir. Genetic testing allows for the safe use of abacavir through the identification of the minority of patients who face serious adverse reactions.

For instance, individuals who have a histocompatibility gene variant, HLA-B*5701, have a 50 percent chance of experiencing a hypersensitive reaction, which can be life-threatening. Standard practice now calls for genetic testing prior to the use of this drug, with the use of an alternative drug if the test is positive.

A comprehensive view of patient health influences

In addition to improving outcomes for individuals (at a genomic level) Personalized Medicine has a number of wider benefits when coupled with other data types. Other data types such as social determinants (environment, diet, geographic location, income level and so on) are key influences shaping the health of an individual and the wider population. 

Having an overview of all the above data types will enable healthcare providers to understand how lifestyle factors influence the onset of disease, enabling care providers to design appropriate healthcare for local populations. This will enable us to be far smarter about how we manage and leverage the limited resources that we have. 

Healthcare providers partnering with health technology providers will be central in driving forward a Personalized Medicine approach, bringing together clinical practice and technology advancements.

How can Orion Health help? 

Orion Health can help healthcare providers take one step closer to Personalized Medicine with their patient data. 

Orion Health’s Amadeus platform can help healthcare providers obtain a 360 view of their patient populations. The platform aggregates many types of data from both traditional and non-traditional sources such as genomic data. This rich repository of data enables healthcare providers to make well-informed decisions at the point of care. 

Want to know more about Amadeus? You can read more or reach out to our experts for a chat.