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the promise of personalized medicine

personalised medicine is widely considered as the way of the future for medicine, especially in cancer, where we are moving away from the one size fits all, trial and error model towards a more tailored, personalized approach. and this has the potential to change the way we think about, identify, treat and manage cancer care.

the european commission defined[2015]personalized medicine as “a model of medicine that uses the molecular profile [phenotypes and genotypes] for tailoring the right therapeutic strategy for the right person at the right time, and | or to determine the predisposition to disease and | or to deliver timely and targeted prevention” – sounds promising.

but we are only just at the beginning of truly understanding personalized medicine. it will be years before personalized medicine is fully implemented into our healthcare system and this will require our system to change. we are in catalyst mode– every new discovery, every new therapy is forcing regulators, decision makers, politicians to do things differently. we saw it with the introduction of immuno-oncology as a standard of care in cancer, we are seeing it again with chimeric antigen receptor therapy[car-t]. and so it begins.

the impact on both clinical research and patient care will grow as our understanding and technologies improve and personalized medicine and biomarkers will transform the delivery of cancer care to benefit both patients and cancer care systems. the utilization of molecular information to improve outcomes and create more efficiency in cancer care is clear. 

personalized medicine is already having a rapid impact on how drugs are discovered and developed, how patients are diagnosed and treated, and how health care delivery is channeling its resources.  the great potential to improve the quality of patient care and to help contain healthcare costs to maximize patient benefits is being witnessed today. can you imagine what this will look like in ten [10] years from now as cancer incidence continues to grow and patients continue to respond to more efficient and effective therapies?

personalized medicine can become a reality in canada; with a flexible regulatory framework that accelerates access, by encouraging policies that invest in and support the use of personalized medicines, biomarkers and innovation, and by educating on the potential effectiveness and efficiency that personalized medicine and biomarkers can make in our healthcare system.

but the promise of personalized medicine, as with anything else, will come with its own set of challenges and barriers that will need to be overcome. we need to start preparing our system for and investing in personalized medicine today so we can benefit tomorrow.


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