Are We There Yet? Casting a Vision for the Future of Personalized Medicine

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As part of their first issue of the new year, Nature ran a series of commentaries entitled 2020 Visions from leaders throughout the industry offering their predictions for what lies ahead in the coming decade. In his commentary on the future of personalized medicine, David Goldstein of Duke University recognized the following challenge, “Over the next decade millions of people could have their genomes sequenced. Many will be given an indication of the risks they face. Serious consideration about how to handle the practical and ethical implications of such predictive power should begin now.”

Dr. Goldstein’s admonition to consider the ramifications of personalized medicine for consumers is well warranted. Consumers have become increasingly informed and engaged in their health care, and the proper implementation of personalized medicine must include recognizing the impact this is already having on clinical care. There are also other significant challenges and opportunities that many are working vigorously to address, and will require additional effort in the coming months and years. To name a few:

  • To what degree will personalized medicine be addressed in the final version of the health reform bill?
  • Is personalized medicine ready to be adopted into clinical practice, or is there need for a greater scientific evidence-base? If so, what does that look like?
  • Will federal incentives for the adoption of electronic medical records enhance the practice of personalized medicine, or impede its progress through implementation that is not aligned with personalized medicine?
  • Are the efforts from biotech and pharmaceutical companies to augment their drug development pipelines with tailored therapeutics (and companion diagnostics) sufficient, or are we still relying too heavily on traditional drug development models?

In the coming weeks, this blog will feature commentaries from those involved in advancing personalized medicine and offer perspectives on what lies ahead. I invite you to share your predictions and expectations for the coming year and beyond. Many have recognized the potential of personalized medicine, but what must take place on the scientific, regulatory, political, or clinical levels to make personalized medicine a reality? I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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