Friday, March 19, 2010

Personalized medicine

If you can get smarter by surrounding yourself with really intelligent people, then my IQ jumped a few points today.  Yesterday evening a few well respected doctors flew into Boston to attend a meeting my team hosted today to talk about a new and interesting area in medicine referred to as Personalized Medicine.  If people have heard the term before, they are most likely inclined to think of medical/testing products that can be purchased at a pharmacy (i.e. pregnancy tests). But P.M. is so much more. A popular definition is medicine that incorporates genetic profiles for the prevention, detection, and treatment of disease by taking into account a person's unique genetic profile. 

These 'thought leaders' shared stories about what they are seeing and their insights were extremely interesting. While some of the stories sounded a bit like something more suited for a science fiction movie the reality is that this is more real than fiction.  How our government and governments around the world react (either encouraging more development through investment or discouraging it by creating impediments) is yet to be seen.  The Human Genome project which started in 1990 and mapped the genetic make-up of humans has helped unlock significant opportunities for defining new treatments (medical, nutritional and behavioral) for keeping a person healthier longer. This international public/private scientific research project is what I mean by governments 'encouraging more development'.

Imagine being able to customize preventitive strategies so women with a genetic predisposition to develop breast cancer can have mamograms more frequently than the general public so they can increase their chance of an early detection? Imagine an individual likely to suffer from Diabetes Type II being 'prescribed' work out sessions with a trainer and sessions with a nutritionist to avoid this chronic disease, which now afflicts an estimated 20 million Americans? These are just some of the opportunities that exist as advances in personalized medicine are realized - pretty cool.

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