Personalized medicine is the new step in the development of modern medicine that raises hope in many fields of research nowadays. Scientists believe that personalized medicine can bring fascinating results and make a revolutionary contribution to the development of effective treatment of cancer, HIV, and other deadly diseases. The advantage of this method consists in the opportunity to choose the optimal treatment for every patient with regard to his/her unique genetic and environmental profile. If screening tests show positive results, it could be a real scientific breakthrough that humanity truly needs now. This paper will discuss the technology of personalized medicine for humans focusing on its implications and pointing out the opportunities that it may open for the modern medicine.
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Personalized medicine is the complex of individualized treatment aimed at providing the patient with the unique treatment strategy that satisfies his/her needs best according to the patient’s genetic, clinical, and environmental information and health record. The natural variation found in human genes could influence the risk of the development of a particular disease and the extent to which it may progress (Hamburg & Collins, 2010). There is the hope that personalized medicine can use these variations to develop safer and more effective treatments for genetically defined sub-groups of people. Such treatments may include the prescription of more appropriate drug therapy or recommendation regarding the lifestyle that can delay the onset of a disease or reduce its impact.
This technology is based on the findings of Human Genome Project of 2003 that indicate that the human genome contains from 22,000 to 23,000 genes (Snyder, Du & Gerstein, 2012). The scientists wanted to pick out the specific genes that caused common diseases. Generally, the project appeared to be successful and reached its goals. However, the subject appears to be more complex, with many diseases developing as the result of multiple genes interactions. Nevertheless, genomic medicine is considered one of the most eagerly awaited directions of research, for it opens significant and groundbreaking opportunities for medicine development.
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This technology has a future because it is based on several scientific principles. It can be measured and assessed through screening tests; it has a solid theoretical framework; its development is possible because it is based on the existing technological methods; finally, genomic medicine is integrated with traditional medicine which makes it more likely to be studied, developed, and tested. In general, personalized medicine appears to be the most credible field of research today. With hopes and enthusiasm that scientists put in its development, it is very likely to become the major field of investment in the near future.
Social and Ethical Implications
From a social perspective, personalized medicine has great advantages. Researchers state that it can significantly improve national healthcare and reduce mortality rates. This statement is based on several observations and assumptions. For instance, Vogenberg, Barash and Pursel (2010) indicate that the effectiveness of prescribed medications reaches only around 50% to 60% for most common diseases and only 20% for cancer therapies. With the help of genomic medicine, the possibility of identifying and mollifying risks for health problems will rise due to the opportunity to choose treatment strategy that would fit the specific patient groups. It will increase the effectiveness of drug treatment and reduce the rate of complications and deaths resulting from the inappropriate and unsafe drug use. This can also decrease costs of hospitalizations due to adverse reactions to medicine and wastage resulting from discarding medications that appeared to be ineffective.
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Improvement in national quality of life is undoubtedly a good reason to facilitate the development of the new medical technology. Making the medicine more available and affordable for the population is no less important than improving its quality. Therefore, viewed from this perspective, personalized medicine seems a very interesting, valuable, and useful innovation. However, in order to assess it fully, scientists have to wait until it will be possible to see this technology in action applying it extensively to the population.
From the ethical side, personalized medicine can be viewed from two different angles. First, it affects responsibility for prescribing drugs. Today, prescribing drugs to a patient, a physician cannot fully evaluate the possible adverse reactions, because he/she does not have a complete genetic and environmental profile of the patient. Access to such information can sufficiently improve the selection of the most appropriate drug and make it easier for doctors to treat their patients effectively. On the other hand, patients might prefer to incur the risks associated with trial-and-error prescribing in order to avoid a greater personal risk that their genome information might be generated along with the possibility of unauthorized access or even worse (Vogenberg, Barash & Pursel, 2010). Such ethical concerns may slow down the implementation of personalized medicine into practice. However, preventive methods will be developed that should allow safe utilization of the technology and minimize the risks of mal-usage.
It is clear that implementation of the new technology will require modifications of policy. Every issue has to be examined by all stakeholders in order to reach consensus regarding the necessary changes in public policy. These issues may include medical records privacy, clinical trial ethics, and protecting patients’ autonomy. It is necessary to regulate all these issues before implementing personalized medicine into practice worldwide.
From my standpoint, personalized medicine opens new perspectives both for scientists and patients. I believe that it is a great step forward for medicine and science in general. In my opinion, genetics is the most perspective field of the modern science that can bring fascinating benefits to the humanity. Therefore, genomic medicine seems to be the best direction for medicine development. The social benefits of this technology leave no doubts regarding its usefulness and reasonability. Improved treatment and reduced costs of medical services will lead to the better healthcare system and, therefore, to the increase in the nation’s quality of life. Such advantages cannot be underestimated considering the lack of obvious and substantial disadvantages of personalized medicine. I find the possible ethical concerns that can appear with the implementation of this technology insignificant compared to the benefits it will bring. I believe that thoughtful and well-designed policy regarding the utilization of genomic medicine can solve these ethical issues before they even start to appear. Therefore, I suggest that a professional preparation for the technology implementation will prevent possible risks and facilitate the positive results that are expected by the scientific community.
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The genetic technology examined in this study is aimed at improving the healthcare system and treatment approaches currently utilized in medicine. Moreover, the implementation of personalized medicine may change the way treatments are discovered and used. This technology can bring significant results in the treatment of various diseases and help humanity to improve the quality of life for every human being. The development of genomic medicine can open new directions for research and create new approaches to the existing issues. Furthermore, with the use of genomic medicine, scientists may be able to find solutions to problems that lie in different areas contributing to the development of science in general.
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