Sunday, June 08, 2008

Times Piece on Potential of Pharmacogenetics

The Times has this interesting story on the importance of personalized medicine and the important role genetic testing can play in helping us achieve this goal. Here is a sample:

A therapy tailored to individuals’ genes has transformed the treatment of a chronic disease, in a ground-breaking advance for personalised medicine.

Hundreds of diabetes sufferers in Britain were able to switch from insulin injections to cheaper, more effective drugs after a simple test showed that they had a particular genetic form of the disorder.

The test, which is available on the NHS, could benefit up to 20,000 with the condition, many of whom are wrongly told that they have type 1 diabetes, and save the NHS at least £30,000 over each patient’s lifetime. A second genetic test could identify another 30,000 people with a mild form of diabetes, who often require no treatment at all.

The success of the test highlights the growing potential of pharmacogenetics – the new medical science of diagnosing diseases with reference to a person’s genetic profile, allowing for much more effective therapy. Scientists believe that within the next decade this approach will be applied to the treatment of other chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.