5th September 2011 – Personalised Medicine

The impact of medicines is different on different patients or patient conditions. It is very important to get the right medicine to the patient to produce the best outcome. Some patients’ conditions may be more critical than others and may only respond to particular medicines. It is important to understand, in a world limited by availability and money, which medicines will produce the best result for patients and the NHS service overall.

Professor Ian Wilson (whom you scored 6 out of a maximum of 5 on his last visit) will lead our session on “Personalised Medicine: what it is, how we go about it and what the implications are.”

We all know, sometimes from experience, that some medicines work better for some people than others. One of the major new topics in biomedical research is so-called “personalised medicine” which aims to deliver the “right medicine to the right person at the right dose”. In order to do this we obviously need methods for determining in advance whether or not an individual is going to respond well to a given therapy.  Methods for finding out how well they are doing on the drug are also needed.

This requires us to have suitable “biomarkers” that will enable us to simply, and cost-effectively, provide these pieces of information about the patient. The explosion in molecular biology, started by the discovery of the central role of DNA in genetics and  culminating in the mapping of the human genome have been followed by efforts to understand the messages encoded in it and apply them to aspects of human disease.

So, techniques such as “genomics” and “transcriptomics” etc. have been coupled with a number of other “omics” technologies (such as “proteomics” and “metabonomics” or ”metabolomics”) as part of efforts to find new and specific biomarkers for a range of conditions.

Professor Wilson will describe the current research in one of these areas, metabonomics, which is based on the idea that cellular metabolites can provide such biomarkers, together with the challenges that such approaches provide to the scientists trying to develop them.

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