What is "personalized medicine" (PM)?
Definitions vary, but essentially, it refers to a “one size does not fit all” strategy of healthcare delivery. This means, for example, that a drug that effectively treats asthmatics in the general population may not be right for me -- this has happened to me.
Other ways to express PM include, “Right drug, right patient, right dose, right time” and P4 medicine (personalized, predictive, preventative, participatory). Many scientists and physicians may also refer to this as "precision medicine," though perhaps more commonly genomic medicine.
The key idea is this: treatment regimens can be custom-tailored to individuals by incorporating their unique genetic variation into their diagnosis, prognosis, and healthcare treatment.
PM is not evidence-based medicine (EBM). EBM developed as an honest attempt to improve clinical practice by focusing on scientific evidence (most often from clinical trials) rather than anecdotal data. Unfortunately, EMB while great in principle, became somewhat perverted in practice (see @murzee, @TrishaTorrey, and Hickey and Roberts, 2011). I'll probably discuss this more in future posts, but here will note that one major problem was using findings based on large populations of patients to treat individuals -- this has happened to me (bad outcomes).
Healthcare and clinical practice has also become more personalized due to the internet, which has given rise to social media channels (e.g., blogs, Facebook, Twitter) that further communications among patients with similar diseases, allowing the sharing of symptoms, diagnoses, treatments, and so on. As a result, patients have become more empowered (e-Patients), creating an unprecedented degree of personalization. And doctors have noticed, and started treating such individuals as people, not populations.
This blog, Personalized Medicine 101, is devoted to exploring PM most typically from the perspectives of genomic medicine as well as the internet (e.g. social media), both of which have had the biggest impact on personalizing medicine in recent history. Since I may define PM more broadly than most, look to these pages to provide discussion about essentially anything related to improving personal healthcare in the 21st century.
As people live longer and chronic disease conditions attract more attention, proper healthcare will continue to demand increased attention from all levels of culture and society. Here's to hoping I provide a positive contribution to that global conversation.
Note: The Twitter hashtag #PM101 serves to locate all news and journal articles relevant to the medical elective I teach: PM101.