Personalised Medicine – Introduction to the Technology
Lexis Nexis, LexisPSL practice note
Posted: 21 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 16, 2019
Personalised medicine has existed for quite some time. Physicians have, to varying degrees, adapted treatments to individual patients based on information collected about them. But over the last decade and a half, the advent of systems biology has significantly widened the scope of personalised medicine. In modern practice, the goal of personalised medicine is to interpret collected datasets in a way that improves our understanding of a living system and its pathologies while enabling targeted treatment that is responsive to an individual patient or group of patients. Often portrayed as medicine that is ‘custom-made’, in opposition to traditional medicine that has a ‘one size fits all’ character, personalised medicine includes all stages of medical procedure, beginning with diagnosis and ending with targeted medicinal treatments. For many, personalised medicine may be defined as the effort of giving the right treatment to the right patient, with the right medicinal product, at the right time, and for the right duration.
But according to some experts, this definition is too restrictive. To them, personalised medicine is not limited to genetic testing, genome sequencing, or particular medicinal products that are responsive to specific biomarkers. Their alternative definition incorporates big data, internet or computer-connected personal medical devices, artificial intelligence (AI), telemedicine, nutrition (nutrigenomics), medical imaging, and the microbiome (the totality of microorganisms and their collective genetic material present in or on the human body or in another environment), to name but a few. The accepted definition of personalised medicine is likely to shift further in coming years as research applications become an ever more prominent part of the daily practice of medicine. In the same vein, the ethical and legal considerations related to this field of study will also evolve, influenced by new discoveries and innovative uses of personalised medicine. This is true at the regulatory level, where new technologies are challenging traditional product classifications and where regulatory mechanisms will seek to secure that a balance exists between innovation and patient safety.
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