Thursday 4 February 2021

Personalized medicines - where next?

Dr Tim Sandle wearing a face mask



Medicine and healthcare is undergoing considerable change in terms of the end of the idea of mass production (‘Fordist’) when it comes to certain treatments. In its place, niche drugs are merging in an era of more flexible pharmaceutical production. While it is wrong to draw too precise parallels between wat has occurred in industrialized sectors, like the car industry, with medicine, we are seeing an emerging field of personalized medicine. This includes diagnostic devices (like laboratory tests to measure genetic factors) and therapeutic products.

In recent years there is a trajectory towards positioning medicine and health practices to meet the needs of the individual patient. This means rather than condition x needing drug y, diagnostic testing would be used to select the appropriate therapy for an individual person based on that person’s unique genetic makeup and physical characteristics. There is another reason why personalized medicines could be important. Not only could treatments be more effective, focused treatments could avoid the misuse of medicines or the risks associated with patients being given general treatments not necessarily intended for their particular condition.

Prescription drugs are the third most common cause of death after heart disease and cancer, for which psychiatric drugs (triggering falls) and non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (primarily by causing bleeding stomach ulcers and myocardial infarction) are most closely associated with fatalities.

Aside from direct risks, genetic medicines will not work with everyone. Examples include: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medicine only works for one of 10 preschoolers; cancer drugs are effective for around 25 percent of patients; and anti-depression drugs work with just six of 10 patients.

In this IVT Network blog we take a look at personalized medicines, citing some examples, and considering some of the technologies that help to make them happen.

To read, see the IVT Network

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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