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Personalized Medicine - page 2


Traditional clinical diagnosis and treatment focuses on the individual patient's clinical Information. That is, the signs and symptoms, medical and family history, and data from laboratory and imaging evaluation needed to diagnose and treat illnesses.

Clinical Information Examples include:


  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Blood in the urine, sputum or stool
  • Loss of weight
  • X-rays and other images
  • Lab and pathology tests
  • Physical exam
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Once the human genome was categorized, a large increase in data was generated and new approaches to treating patients emerged.

Personalized Medicine
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Fields of translational research termed 'omics' (genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics) study the contribution of genes, proteins, and metabolites that can lead to disease susceptibility.

It is hoped that these fields will enable new approaches to diagnosis, drug development, and individualized therapy leading to more 'personalized' medical care.

To really understand personalized medicine it helps to understand the various fields of scientific study that provide the tools to practice personalized medicine.

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We will provide a little bit of information about the various scientific fields of study here but to better understand this topic please go to the the beginning of the 'OMICS' section of our website and read in entirety:

1) Genomics

Before we discuss genomics it is important to understand how it fits into the larger scientific field of biology, so lets start with a few definitions.


Genetics is the science of individual genes and their impact on inherited disease.

A Genome is an organism's complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. In humans, a copy of the entire genome-more than 3 billion DNA base pairs-is contained in all cells that have a nucleus.

Genomics is the study of the full collection of a person's genes and their interactions with each other and the internal and external environment they are exposed to.


This includes the study of gene mutations, both inherited and somatic (mutations that occur in your lifetime). It is these mutations that contribute to the development and spread of cancer.

  • The Role of Genomics

Genomics plays a part in nine of the ten leading causes of death in the United States (only accidents have no genomic role). "All human beings are 99.9 percent identical in genetic makeup, but differences in the remaining 0.1 percent hold important clues about the causes of disease." Quote from the National Human Genome Research Institute. It is hoped that the study of genomics will help us learn why some people get sick while others do not. A better understanding of the interactions between genes and the environment will help us find better ways to improve health and prevent diseases.

  • Genomics Looks for Patterns in DNA or RNA

Currently, work in genomics is leading to a better understanding of cancer. Eventually, it could result in tests that predict risk of cancer, diagnose cancer or its recurrence, or used to improve and manage treatment.


The "Central Dogma"

"DNA makes RNA, RNA makes
protein, and proteins make
us." - Francis Crick

Image courtesy of Genome Management Information System, Oak Ridge National Laboratory


  • What We've Learned So Far

One of the greatest impacts of having sequenced the human genome may well be in enabling an entirely new approach to biological research. In the past, researchers studied one or a few genes at a time.

With whole-genome sequences and new high-throughput technologies, they can approach questions systematically and on a large scale. They can study all the genes in a genome, for example, or how tens of thousands of genes and proteins work together in interconnected networks to orchestrate the chemistry of life.



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