This article was first published by The Times of Israel and is re-posted with permission.
Medicine is going personal, driven by the dropping cost of genetic testing. And the global medical community is abuzz with anticipation for the ability to treat patients with therapies specifically suited to their needs rather than generic medications.
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Snipping away at defective disease-causing genes using “molecular scissors,” studying gut bacteria to diagnose illnesses, mapping out cancer cells using gold nanoparticles and leveraging patients’ own immune systems to fight cancer and “silence” cancerous genes are all part of this vision of personalized medicine.
Personalized medicine is crucial in the early and precise diagnosis of serious diseases and the development of effective and less toxic treatments, based on the patient’s genetic profile. It is this profile that has a significant impact whether patients will respond well to specific treatments.
Although the field is still young, it is growing rapidly both in academia and in the pharmaceutical industry. Israel, North America, the UK and European states are all allocating huge resources for the development of personalized medicine, which is seen as the medicine of the future.
In the not-so-distant future, predicted Prof. Shulamit Michaeli, doctors will be able to diagnose colon cancer, brain tumors and breast cancer via a simple blood test, even before the diseases become fully blown illnesses. And when they find cancer, they will be able to target the genetic mutations that are at its core with a cocktail of medications that will not have any side effects.
“These new methods will revolutionize how we treat patients today,” said Michaeli, the VP for research and director of the Dangoor Center for Personalized Medicine at the Bar-Ilan University, in an interview with The Times of Israel. “We are closer to this than we think.”
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