You probably haven’t heard about precision medicine. That’s fine, it wasn’t even possible ten years ago.
But now we’re entering the new Gilded Age — and suddenly researchers are using it to fight many deadly diseases, including brain cancer in kids.
Scientists at Dana Farber, a Harvard-affiliated research group, and the Boston Children’s Blood Disorders and Cancer Center, recently sequenced tumor samples from 200 children with brain cancer, Forbes reported.
What they found was astounding: More than half the children exhibited genetic abnormalities that could influence how the disease was treated.
“The reason we did this trial was that brain tumors are a leading cause of death in children, and the treatments that we and everyone else use are decades old – radiation and chemo,” writes Pratiti Bandopadhayay, a pediatric neuro-oncologist at Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s in the medical journal Neuro-Oncology. “Our approach to try to improve on that is to target the individual tumors of each child.”
That’s the key. Precision medicine promises to change health sciences by using data analytics and what we know about ourselves to tailor personal therapies and treatments.
In this way, precision medicine is the perfect symbol of the New Gilded Age. It grew out of the awesome advances in cloud computing. It touched medicine and changed what researchers thought to be possible. Without that, neither genome sequencing nor bespoke drug discovery would be possible. Certainly it would not have been possible for doctors to dream about developing treatments based on the patient’s individual biology.
In theory, it all seems simple enough, even logical. Getting to this point has been a bit more complex.