by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted March 24, 2008 in DNA and Disease
Pharmaceutical companies are searching through their dusty shelves and archives to find drugs in abandoned pipelines that may be potentially effective in groups of people defined by their genetic make-up. The Wall Street Journal reports that personalized medicine is gathering speed:
While the markets for these therapies are smaller than for those that treat the general population, pharmaceutical companies are realizing there are hefty profits to be made because patients are more likely to use, and stick with, a tailored medicine that works better than a one-size-fits-all drug.
Of course, personalized medicine is dependent upon genetic information to succeed. Prior to consumer genomics, access to genetic testing was limited to those who could find a genetic counselor or medical geneticist within a reasonable physical distance. With the Internet and DNA technologies combined, however, it is now possible for patients to develop a personalized medicine strategy with the help of in-house genetics experts at companies that offer consumer genomics.
Even at this early stage of consumer genomics and personalized medicine, consumers can already use genetic information to prevent or treat disease either in themselves or their offspring. Pharmacogenomics is particularly useful for helping patients and their physicians determine treatments and dosages that are the most effective yet with the fewest side effects. Consumers can access many of the genetic tests with or without the help of their personal physician via companies that offer direct-to-consumer genetic testing*. Some of these companies offer genetic counseling services and other resources to help consumers understand their test results and take action. Others, such as nutrigenomic companies, also sell supplements that purportedly address perceived genetic deficiencies.
In one of this month’s JAMA commentaries, Drs. Feero, Guttmacher, and Collins list the following obstacles confronting personalized medicine:
Not enough information on prevalence and risk conferred by genetic markers across population groups
Unclear inheritance of multiple markers and effects on risk of disease
Incomplete picture of gene x environment interactions
Not enough studies on common diseases and effect of interventions based on genetic risk factors
Limited evidence of benefit for personalized medicine esp. when there are no clinical studies
Fear of genetic discrimination
The authors conclude that education of health care professionals and the general population is necessary. Despite all the news about developments in genomic technology, consumers still have much to learn. The key to helping consumers decide which genomic services they need and which are nice to have, but not necessary, is to empower them with information.
Within the decade, genetics experts predict that genome sequencing will no longer feel like a breakthrough and costs will drop to about $1,000 per genome. Point-of-care or point-of-use handheld devices will make it even easier to incorporate consumer genomics into medical care. These portable machines will be able to analyze whole blood in the clinic and deliver genetic testing results within minutes. Other portable machines would be targeted to consumers for personal use and would possibly contain data from an individual’s complete genome linked to a database of relevant disease information that can be easily updated via the Web. Jay Flatley, CEO of Illumina, already has his “genotype” on an Apple iPhone.
The intersection between consumer genomics and personalized medicine is about more than breakthroughs in technology. It is also about a change in the way consumers approach healthcare. Consumers may lead the way by first accessing genomic technology on their own then sharing their genetic information with healthcare providers later on a need-to-know basis. Or they may wait for qualified genetics professionals to take the lead. No one knows exactly how consumers will embrace genomics and personalized medicine when they become part of standard medical care. There is no doubt, however, that the trickle of consumer genomics will soon grow into a torrent. Are we prepared?
*Disclosure: I work with DNA Direct.
Drug Companies Should Offer Free DNA Tests...
DNA Quote of the Day: Dr. Sharon Krag...
The United States Genetic Diagnostics Market...
deCODE Genetics Finds New Gene Variant for Heart Attacks...
Dr. Robert Marion on Physician Knowledge of Genetics...
Genetic Passports for Russians...
Genomics Law Report Special Series on Ethical, Legal, and Social Issues...
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.
Search Eye on DNA
- Genetic Genealogy on Faces of America
- DNA Network Tweet Cloud
- Genetics = Real Science
- Larry David’s DNA Test
- Lopez Tonight First Late-Night Show to Offer DNA Testing
- American Genes Don’t Exist
- Knowledge about Genetic Risk is Power or is it Fear?
- Murderer Gets Reduced Sentence Because His Genes Made Him Do It
- Video: Knome’s Ari Kiirikki Speaks with Medgadget
- DNA Toys: Ben 10 and Digimon Digivice
- 100 Facts About DNA
- Salaries for Jobs in Genetics
- Fetal Gender DNA Tests Answer Common Pregnancy Question...Or Not
- What does DNA mean to you?
- How To Determine Paternity Without A DNA Test
- Eye on DNA Interview: Dr. Tzung-Fu Hsieh of RedTracer DNA Test for the Red Hair Gene, MC1R
- Books About DNA: The Crime of Reason by Robert B. Laughlin
- Genetically Modified Organisms Bring in the Cash
- Navigenics Introduces Physician Portal and Annual Insight Service
- People Who’ve Had Their Genomes Sequenced
09/29/2009 07:03 am
- Larry David’s DNA Test
11/17/2009 02:52 am
- 23andMe DNA Tests for $399, Down From $999
09/10/2008 04:33 am
- Crazy Genetic Marketing Ideas
07/05/2008 09:14 pm
- Parenting Children Using Genetic Tests
05/18/2009 02:09 am
- Business of DNA
- DNA @ Google Answers
- DNA and Disease
- DNA and Genealogy
- DNA and the Law
- DNA Around the World
- DNA Fun
- DNA in General
- DNA Inventions and Gadgets
- DNA Lab Talk
- DNA Podcasts and Videos
- DNA Quotes and Excerpts
- DNA Testing
- Gene Therapy
- Genetic Engineering
- Genetically Modified Foods and Organisms
- Jobs Involving DNA
- Personalities with DNA
- Polls About DNA
- January 2010
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008
- August 2008
- July 2008
- June 2008
- May 2008
- April 2008
- March 2008
- February 2008
- January 2008
- December 2007
- November 2007
- October 2007
- September 2007
- August 2007
- July 2007
- June 2007
- May 2007
- April 2007
- Discovering Biology in a Digital World
- Science With Me!
- Genomics Revolution
- Mendel’s Garden
- Let’s Get Personal
- Infrared Sauna Info
- Genomics Policy
- QUEST Science Blog
- Pharma Gazette
- A Blog Around The Clock