Precision and personalized medicine have revolutionized the field of healthcare by tailoring medical treatments to an individual’s unique genetic makeup and health characteristics. In the biological and biopharmaceutical landscape, significant strides have been made in advancing personalized medicine, with notable breakthroughs in the areas of oncology, genetic screening/testing, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. In today’s Tulane Digest, we delve into the fascinating worlds of precision and personalized medicine, exploring their current applications and the exciting potential both hold for the future.
Precision Medicine: Unraveling the Science of Individualized Care
Although the term “precision medicine” may be relatively new, the concept has been an integral part of healthcare for years. Consider a blood transfusion—rather than randomly selecting a donor, matching the donor’s blood type with the recipient’s minimizes the risk of complications. This fundamental principle of tailoring treatment to the individual’s needs forms the basis of precision medicine.
In the field of oncology, personalized medicine has opened up new possibilities for targeted therapies. Researchers have made remarkable progress in identifying specific genetic mutations that drive the growth of cancer cells. By analyzing an individual’s genetic profile, healthcare professionals can now prescribe targeted treatments that precisely inhibit these specific mutations, increasing the effectiveness of cancer therapies while minimizing side effects. This approach has shown promising results in various types of cancer, improving patient outcomes, and extending survival rates. One example of this innovative approach is found in the lab of Matt Burow, PhD, and Bridgette Collins-Burow, MD, who have created novel patient-derived xenografts (PDX) that facilitate more rapid and personalized treatments. These PDX models, involving the engraftment of tumors from patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer into mice, facilitate comprehensive studies on drug resistance, tumorigenesis, and metastasis in breast cancer subtypes. The lab characterizes and utilizes organoids, patient-derived xenografts, and micro-physiological systems to identify therapeutic targets and investigate drug resistance in cancer systems, with emphasis on ER+ and triple-negative breast cancer.
Genetic screening and testing have also seen notable advancements in the realm of personalized medicine. Rapid advancements in gene sequencing technologies have made it possible to identify genetic predispositions to diseases at an earlier stage. This enables healthcare providers to implement preventive measures or personalized treatment plans to mitigate the risk of developing certain conditions. By understanding an individual’s genetic susceptibility to diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or certain types of cardiovascular disorders, healthcare professionals can tailor interventions to manage or delay the onset of these conditions, significantly improving patients’ quality of life. Several universities, including Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Tulane University, have prioritized genomic precision medicine research by creating research centers or cohorts with these areas of focus. In fact, researchers at Johns Hopkins have created a Precision Medicine Analytics Platform that provides data sets from various sources (i.e. electronic medical records, radiology imaging, research registries, and others) along with analytical tools that can be used as a discovery platform for projects in drug discovery and personalized medicine. The push into this space from universities mirrors the push from industry, where companies such as Novartis, Pfizer, and AbbVie have included precision medicine as an area of innovation that they are prioritizing.
The Promising Future of Precision and Personalized Medicine
Although this field is relatively young, it will continue to revolutionize the way we approach healthcare. By harnessing the power of genomics, biomarker testing, and individualized care technologies—and synching them with the capabilities of AI and machine learning—we will continue to pave the way for a future where diseases are detected earlier, treatments are tailored to individual needs, and prevention becomes the cornerstone of healthcare. The integration of precision medicine into public health initiatives will empower individuals to take charge of their own well-being and enable an increased understanding of healthcare in addition to more rapid and positive outcomes.
The Tulane Medicine team, who is also the Tulane Digest Team, is partnering at BIO 2023 this week. You can send a request through the BIO partnering system, or email us directly to arrange a time to connect.
Curated Research and Research-Related News Summaries, Analyses, and Syntheses. Published on behalf of The Tulane University School of Medicine. Content is generated by reviewing scientific papers and preprints, reputable media articles, and scientific news outlets. We aim to communicate the most current and relevant scientific, clinical, and public health information to the Tulane community – which, in keeping with Tulane’s motto, “Not for Oneself but for One’s Own”, is shared with the entire world.
Kaylynn J. Genemaras, PhD: Editor-in-Chief
Maryl Wright Ponds, MS: Research and Writing Assistance