Thanks to advances in genomics technologies, the days of personalised medicine are truly upon us
By Danny Meyersfeld, Ph.D., CEO, DNAlysis Biotechnology
Personalised medicine, also called precision or individualised medicine, is an evolving field of practice in which physicians use genomic information to guide the best course of treatment. Personalised medicine is the recognition of every patient’s individuality and the acknowledgement that each will require their own unique intervention to ensure optimal health outcomes.
One of the most significant technological accomplishments in recent history was the complete sequencing of the human genome; a collaborative effort spanning fifteen years and involving scientists and academics from around the globe. When the first draft was published in 2003, almost two years ahead of schedule, it gave us the ability to read nature’s complete genetic blueprint for building a human being. This also created an expectation that with detailed knowledge of the genome would come insights into the prevention and management of the disease. But sequencing the genome heralded just the first (major) step in this direction. The research potential that this unlocked, such as identifying disease-causing genes, or the changes in gene expression that may initiate a disease process, has brought us much closer to the eventual implementation of precision medicine.
The Human Genome Project has helped to create a healthcare environment that is not just personalised, but also predictive. One of the key drivers of the burgeoning “wellness” environment is the desire to take more responsibility for one’s own health. One aspect of this entails taking proactive steps to prevent disease, rather than rely on the healthcare system to cure the disease, which is usually only after it manifests. Given that the massive burden of chronic disease is predominantly lifestyle driven, there is much that the average health-conscious consumer can do to reduce this disease burden.
One of the key findings of the Human Genome Project was the degree to which gene expression is influenced by our environment. Far from being cast in stone, we have the ability to control and modify the manner in which many of our genes are expressed, and ultimately the ability to control many aspects of our own health.
The intersection of genetic testing and personalised medicine is the understanding that the recommendations of diet, nutrition, and lifestyle given to one person are not necessarily the same for another. We know this intuitively, as the propensity to hop from one weight loss programme to another will testify. With the benefit of foresight provided by a DNA test, those days are behind us.
With the benefit of foresight provided by a DNA test, those days are behind us. Individuals can be given notice of the most suitable diet type for weight management; insight into the specific nutrients their bodies require for optimal cellular health; insight into their exercise regime that is most suited to their genetic potential; and be empowered with this knowledge to make the most appropriate and relevant lifestyle choices.
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