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Much has been made of the potential of the genome, perhaps none of it more tantalizing than the concept of “tailoring” therapies to individual patients’ genes.  But to date, examples of successful use of this technology are scarce, and completely absent from the daily practice of most clinicians I know.

There has been a big push from some scientists to define this technology as “personalized medicine” – a term that has been around for a long time (longer than the genome has been sequenced).  Is this what personalized medicine means to you?

On the one hand, I believe these efforts are important (I voted to take the pill that would extend my life 500 years in the last poll).  On the other hand, I worry that the focus and expense of this effort may detract from other areas of research.  Like researching how to teach clinicians to really get to know the patient in front of them (not just their genes).

Maybe we should take back this term.

by: Alex Smith

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I believe there is a role for "personalizing" medical care. In this month's issue of the Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine-Volume 78, Number 4- there is an article on Pharmacogenomics. The premise is that "Testing for polymorphism before prescribing certain drugs could help avoid adverse drug effects and improve efficacy." While the greater availablity of testing is often a surrogate for doctor patient interactions, the greater accuracy afforded by these technological advances will, in a not too distant future, change the way primary care medicine is practiced. Primary care physicians will become a thing of the past, I believe.
    Getting to know our patients remains important as long as medicine remains a science of probabilities. Once we can personalize care, we won't be needed. I am not sure hat is a bad thing.

  2. Primary care physicians can benefit from this study. It helps them attend to the different needs of their patients.

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