The field of personalized medicine has made significant progress with key discoveries like single nucleotide polymorphism and microarray/biochips. These advances will benefit plans, patients, the pharmaceutical industry, and society.
The notion of individualism is strong within Western societies. During recent decades the individual with his/her independence and uniqueness has been celebrated and recognized within the media, arts, and sciences. Moreover, the scientific community’s understanding of the individual has been bolstered by the completion of the Human Genome Project. The mapping of the human genome has shown that while mankind’s genetic make-up is 99.1% identical; a small 0.9% inter-individual genetic variability creates and accounts for the vast variability that exists within the human species (Novelli 2010).
The medical community has long recognized the inherent uniqueness of patients as evidenced by the prevalence of specific disease entities within families and ethnicities, variable responses to medications, and diverse manifestations of a single pathology (Novelli 2010). Notwithstanding these observations, medical therapy has generally employed a broad treatment approach to a heterogeneous population rather than a unique treatment approach to the individual patient. This practice is now changing as technological advancements enable practitioners to identify and treat patients based on unique characteristics — a practice known as personalized medicine (PM).
History of personalized medicine
The term personalized medicine first appeared in published works in 1999, however some of the field’s core concepts have been in existence since the early 1960s (Jain 2002). The advent of new technologies has now made personalized medicine a more tangible reality, and has enabled researchers to provide a link between an individual’s molecular and clinical profiles (Ginsburg 2001).