July 12, 2024

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Pros and Concerns of Personalized Medicine Based on Genetic Testing and Treatment

Pros and Concerns of Personalized Medicine Based on Genetic Testing and Treatment

Pros and Concerns of Personalized Medicine Based on Genetic Testing and Treatment

With the advancement of technology and the rise of genetic research and personalized medicine based on genetic testing and treatment, the term “personalized medicine” is increasingly prevalent. But what does it mean? This article outlines what personalized medicine is, its advantages, and some concerns associated with it.

Personalized medicine, also known as precision medicine, is a rapidly expanding field that uses individuals’ genetic profiles to guide decisions related to disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

While the concept of personalized medicine originated in the 1990s, it remained mostly theoretical until the progress of DNA sequencing technology. Since then, continuous advancements have provided a wealth of new information. Discoveries in genetics, proteins, and pathways allow the study of the genetic basis of rare and common diseases, aiding in the identification of new drug targets.

Pros and Concerns of Personalized Medicine Based on Genetic Testing and Treatment

Advantages of Personalized Medicine

Traditional medical practices have often been reactive, waiting to treat or cure diseases after they occur. However, considering our unique genetic makeup, environment, and lifestyle factors, we are all distinct individuals. As our understanding of genetics and genomics—the study of all genes in an individual—and how they drive individual health, disease, and treatment deepens, it provides an opportunity to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach based on population averages toward personalized approaches.

In addition to advancements in genomics, developments in scientific and technological fields play a crucial role in personalized medicine. High-resolution analysis techniques, biotechnological research, and advancements in deciphering molecular structures, signaling pathways, and protein interactions that support gene expression mechanisms are noteworthy.

Personalized medicine is not just about prescribing the best medications, although that is a significant aspect. Supporters believe it will shift the focus of medicine from reaction to prevention, better predict susceptibility to diseases, improve diagnostics, produce more effective drugs, reduce adverse effects, and eliminate the inefficiencies and high costs of trial-and-error healthcare.

We have already witnessed positive impacts of personalized medicine on the care of breast cancer, melanoma, and cardiovascular disease patients. Using patients’ cells and organoids as “avatars” for disease models to determine beneficial treatment methods has provided genuinely personalized healthcare. CRISPR technology allows the direct manipulation of genetic material at specific locations in the genome, offering a direct approach to treating genetic and other diseases.

Concerns Regarding Personalized Medicine

Despite the numerous benefits of personalized medicine, its adoption raises some issues. To achieve maximum efficiency, large amounts of genomic data must be collected from diverse populations while ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of participants. Privacy concerns extend to the collection, storage, and sharing of information.

Overcoming ethical barriers in the use of personalized medicine, including knowledge gaps and informed consent, privacy and confidentiality, and the availability of healthcare services, may require extensive reforms in healthcare systems, including ethical reforms. Balancing social benefits with scientific development and individual interests is crucial. Some worry that collected data might be unethically used, such as insurance companies denying coverage to those with certain genetic predispositions.

Legally, negligence occurs if doctors fail to follow recognized practices. In personalized medicine, when issues arise in the interpretation of genetic information, there may be no universally recognized practices or standards. This raises the question of when clinical genetic knowledge can become a practice standard.

Cost is another relevant factor. While the costs associated with large-scale DNA sequencing are decreasing, they remain high. Additionally, drugs developed based on molecular or genetic variations are likely to be costly. Massive data require significant infrastructure changes, including reforms in data collection, storage, and sharing mechanisms, all of which necessitate investment.

Will Personalized Medicine Become a Reality?

Personalized medicine has already emerged in forms like CRISPR, mRNA vaccines, and large-scale newborn genome sequencing, as envisioned two decades ago when the Human Genome Project was first completed, with its own set of benefits.

However, widespread adoption of personalized medicine may be more challenging than initially imagined. In addition to the mentioned issues, changing public attitudes and the views of healthcare professionals, patients, and health regulatory agencies toward this approach are necessary. This might require a new approach to drug testing and a willingness to accept risks.

Nevertheless, the potential benefits of personalized medicine are immense, and technological and knowledge advancements are unstoppable. It is almost certain that personalized medicine will continue to evolve and, at some point in the future, become a standard configuration in healthcare systems—the specific timing depends on the pace of progress and how quickly the aforementioned obstacles can be overcome.

Pros and Concerns of Personalized Medicine Based on Genetic Testing and Treatment

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