Precision medicine harnesses a unique mix of personal genetic, genomic and clinical information to inform patients’ medical care, for both treatment and prevention of diseases. This information includes individual genomic DNA sequences, which can potentially identify variants that cause disease, and in some cases predict how a patient will respond to a particular drug.
All cancers are characterized by mutations in the DNA. These mutations have the potential to drive cancer growth and can influence how a patient might respond to medication or help explain why a patient has stopped responding to treatment.
By analyzing the tumor’s underlying molecular alteration, physicians can prescribe targeted therapies tailored to each patient’s condition and improve their chances for recovery.
Genomic analysis of tumor cells can identify the nature of the tumor, and in a growing number of cases identify the cause of and suggest the most effective treatment. These exciting new technologies will complement traditional physician-patient relationships and improve diagnosis and treatment.
The rapid pace of discovery in genetics and genomics over the last decade, together with the reduced cost of genomic sequencing, has driven interest and excitement in the application of precision medicine in the clinic. There are clear examples of the successful application of precision medicine, but advances on many different fronts will be required to realize its full potential, ranging from basic science to drug discovery to resolving health care inequities
In addition to targeting tumors with greater accuracy and increasing survival rates, research suggests precision medicine could mitigate unnecessary treatments and reduce prescription errors.
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