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Precision Medication – Lack of Education Holding up Progress for Personalized Medicine

Posted Mar 11 2009 3:57pm

It’s all about software and education for personalized medicine to move forward.  One comment made here, and I agree is the fact that a non-physician individual will need to come in to play to explain how this works for patients.  There are many more websites coming on line that offer information.  I also have a short list of links that are always here on the blog where additional information is available, both for physicians and patients.  The field is moving rapidly and more genomic tests are in the making every day it seems.

Personalized medicine will rely on IT – It’s all about Software

Again, the big problem is who is going to pay for these tests?  The Warfarin test is a prime example.  Additional information is under the related reading where the controversial issue goes back and forth, and comments from risk management saying it’s not always cost effective, so go figure, do we want to save a dime or a life.  

Here’s an interview I did with Rosetta Genomics about their lung cancer tumor tests that are now available.

Rosetta Genomics Interview – microRNA for Diagnosing Lung Cancer Tumors

The pharmaceutical industry and regulators are each adjusting well to the dawning of personalized medicine, said Lawrence Lesko, PhD, FCP, director of clinical pharmacology and biotherapeutics, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recently at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

By 2019, a typical pharmacy, he said, will display extensive racks of self-testing kits for the risks of gene-associated diseases and a counseling center along side the prescription counter, where the pharmacist will help patients manage drugs designed for their personal genetic makeup.

"For precision medicine, the disease must be diagnosed to the gene," said Lesko, who emphasized that vast amounts of data generated by human genome research in recent years creates an opportunity for drug makers to better target medicines to smaller populations of patients.  But at the same time, the challenge for drug makers is like turning a large field of long-range radar antennae inward into the body, he said. "Who is going to interpret the data? Who will explain that information to the patients? Pharmacists are the logical answer. Precision medicine will need a professional, nonphysician go between."

Except for lacking a strong business economy for personalized medicine right now, the leading factor holding it back is lack of education, he said.  "We have a public health crisis in this country. Drugs are intended to treat symptoms not diseases." Instead, "new [personalized] drugs will now be developed by pathways, by going after the biochemical actions set off by genes. Cancer gets it," added Lesko, referring to new drug discovery and development trends in cancer research that work to find genetic keys for fighting different kinds of cancers.

Lesko said a current example of a gene-specific drug is Warfarin. The effectiveness of the widely prescribed anticoagulant is variable depending on whether patients have a couple of key genes. The FDA has labeled at least 10 precision medical drugs so far that can be considered personalized medicines, he said.

UMB News

Related Reading:

Plavix – What’s the next step for doctors and patients – possible genetic testing in the near future?
Genetic warfarin test not cost-effective in guiding initial dosing of common blood thinner
Who's going to pay for the Warfarin Test - Personalized Medicine
Genetic Testing Improves Some Warfarin Dosing
MDVIP Physicians Partners with Navigenics to Provide Personal Genetic Tests for Preventive Medicine
Interpreting the Genome - understanding all the data
An Introduction to Genomics – Humans have Bugs just like Windows does and It’s all about the Code
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