Taking Medicine Personally

Taking Medicine Personally PictureWould you prefer to buy a suit from the rack or instead a suit tailored to every inch of your body?  That’s not a strange question.  Across, we have begun to adopt a personalized approach to medicine. We are starting to recognize that everybody affected by an illness is different and identifying these individualities can help clinicians provide a personalized treatment.  Clinicians now know the importance of their patient’s individual biology in developing the right treatment.

It’s time we adopted this thinking in cancer medicine. One example of this personalized approach is using mice avatars.  Using this technique, a sample from a patient’s tumour is removed, separated into individual cancer stem cells, and grown individually.  Each tumour is then implanted into a mouse where individual cancer therapies can be tested to determine which one works best.

However, much like a tailored suit, the added benefit of personalized medicine comes at an added cost.  In any cancer treatment, timing is critical.  Significant time commitments are needed to grow, culture and test individual tumors against a already developed therapies options. This approach will also increase the initial cost of cancer therapy that are associated with developing the new materials needed to carry out the personalized approach

Despite these drawbacks, personalized medicine promises to offer the most impactful treatment to the person affected by cancer.  As we continue to improve this personalized approach to medicine, clinicians will reduce both the time and financial investments involved.  Techniques like these recognize that every cancer is different, and ensure that clinicians are choosing the right treatment for the right person at the right time.

This post was written by Dr. Martin Smith, PhD. He currently works at The Ontario Brain Institute studying brain diseases. To learn more about Martin and his research check out our Members page.

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