Tapping Personalized Health Care’s Potential

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April 6th, 2011
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“Translating the knowledge we are gaining from gene discoveries into practical clinical and public health applications will be critical for realizing the potential of personalized health care and improving the health of the nation.”

Muin J. Khoury, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Office of Public Health Genomics, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

There are several interesting and exciting developments in personalized health that extend well beyond clinical medicine and into areas of science, ethics, government policy and regulation, patient advocacy, and business.   In January of this year, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation published The Personalized Health Project—Identifying the gaps between discovery and application in the life sciences, and proposed solutions. This report provides insights from key thought leaders as to how far we have come, where there are gaps and barriers, and how far away we are from reaching the goal of implementing personalized health care solutions.

It is incredible to think that we are already 20 years into the Human Genome Project and so much has been gained in terms of huge data repositories of genomic knowledge.  More and more we see genetic tests being utilized to prevent, predict, diagnose and treat.  Some of these tests used in clinical medicine are becoming incorporated into clinical guidelines and standard of care. Additionally the cost of genome sequencing has decreased tremendously in the past 10 years, eclipsing Moore’s Law, which is typically an accurate way to conduct long-term planning for technological innovation.

Cost Per Genome

(www.genome.gov/sequencingcosts)

While progress has occurred, there still exists a need to understand, refine, translate and validate the knowledge gained in the last 20 years and to apply it to personalized health. For example, understanding the complexity of the information generated from a genetic test is a key component to consider integrating into personal health.  How realistic is it to assume a physician will be able to interpret genetic tests?  For physicians and patients, and in the case of direct-to-consumer tests, it will be imperative to communicate clear results to the end-user. (See Point/Counterpoint: On FDA Regulation of DTC Genetic Tests.)

With the daily deluge of information written on the topic of personalized health, one source of information that I find to be particularly useful is on the CDC Genomics and Health Impact Update whereby the CDC provides weekly updates on genomics and public health along with important and useful links.

Industry conferences are another source of current information. Popper and Co. will attend the 3rd Annual Personalized Medicine Partnerships Conference from April 11-12 in Washington, DC. It will be interesting to hear firsthand how different businesses have developed successful models for bringing to fruition their strategic approaches to personalized health.

Where do you see gaps in the translation of genomic data into useful personalized health strategies? Are there “go-to” sources for information on personalized health topics and trends that you’d like to share? Please respond below. We look forward to learning more.

About the Author: Patti Doherty has 20 years experience in clinical research, including leading diagnostic and pharmaceutical clinical studies. Her experience extends to cancer, infectious disease, cardiology, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders, as well as work in the areas of proteomics, microscopy, and point of care diagnostics.

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