What is Precision Medicine ?

Precision medicine aims to match the diagnostic and treatment options to every patient’s unique genetic or molecular makeup. To achieve this aim, it is essential that individuals who can possibly respond to a particular treatment option be identified based on molecular or genetic testing. Moreover, the diseases need to be classified in a way that aligns with the newly emerging concept of precision medicine, because various disease subtypes that have unique molecular etiologies are still classified as one disease. Hence, “A New Taxonomy of human disease based on molecular biology” has been regarded as a possible solution to this problem. This new taxonomy will take into consideration the multi-parameter molecular data, environmental data, clinical data, prognostic outcomes as well as the underlying pathology of disease to develop a nomenclature that can drive precision medicine. Moreover, precision medicine demands that researchers and health-care providers are provided access to a huge database that contains information about disease and the health of individual patients. It is therefore safe to assume that biology and medicine will become a data-intensive science in near future.

Perhaps the simplest definition of precision medicine was put forward by President Obama in his address on Jan 30, 2015. He defined precision medicine as "delivering the right treatments at the right time — every time — to the right person". It is quite well-known that different individuals respond differently to the same medication and each person’s disease is unique. This uniqueness is bestowed by the genetic and hence molecular makeup of each individual. Upon completion of the Human Genome Project, it was hoped that genetic markers would segregate human population into two main groups; non-responders and the responders. However, later on it was realized that this was an over-simplification of the reality and patient care demanded a more practical approach - an approach that would allow targeting of patients with more precise medication depending upon their genetic makeup and disease.


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