The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

Personalized Medicine

March 25, 2017

Thanks to the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, which determined the sequence of all human DNA, medical professionals are now able to prescribe individualized treatments to their patients in an important subfield of digital health known as personalized medicine. Though the Human Genome Project ended over a decade ago, genome sequencing and personalized medicine are seeing much of their rapid development today.

Being able to examine a person’s genome helps physicians accurately predict a person’s susceptibility to a specific disease and how their body might respond to possible treatments. This allows a doctor to more effectively choose between treatments for a patient based upon their genetic makeup. This is a stark change from the traditional “one-size-fits-all” approach to medicine, and may shape healthcare for the next generation.

In its brief lifespan, personalized medicine has already made great progress in cancer and HIV/AIDS. Medical professionals in both fields have embraced personalized medicine by using genomic data and genetic makeup to customize screening, diagnosis, prognosis and therapy selection for each patient.

Despite the success of the Human Genome Project and the subsequent developments in genomics, this branch of digital health is still in infancy. Few products are readily available to the average patient, so many aren’t even aware that this aspect of personalized medicine exists, but science is taking strides towards making this type of medicine accessible to all.

Digital health aims to apply technology in reforming traditional medicine. Personalized medicine does just that — it uses novel genomic sequencing technology to change the “one-size-fits-all” model of medicine by informing a physician’s decisions with genetics. There is still plenty of progress to be made, but researchers are optimistic that personalized medicine may well be the new face of healthcare.

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