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a brief history of personalized medicine

by Neoteryx | 2 min read

Personalized medicine is an emerging field. But the logic it's based on is old.

Personalized medicine refers to procedures tailored to the unique variables that make each patient an individual. The different genes, lifestyle and behaviors, and environmental factors can influence these variables. Thus, a successful medication in a certain individual may not work for another individual, affecting developments in areas such as therapeutic drug monitoring. New methods are arising to accommodate these variables and make the most precise treatments available to as many different patients as possible.shutterstock_530127004


By the 20th century, clinicians had developed a kind of personalized approach to the treatments of patients. For instance, after the rise of blood transfusions, knowledge accumulated that indicated that individuals differ in blood groups. It was also noted that grouping such people resulted in successful blood transfusions. The doctors later advanced in the documentation of individuals' relations to diseases depending on their families’ histories. This was done in diseases that seemed to be passed from generation to generation.

The personalized medicine became more concrete at the beginning of the 21st century with the solidification of the Human Genome Project. This project took a new approach that connected the genetic makeup of individuals and their health. This enabled the doctors to conduct genetic mapping. Genetic mapping reveals that 99.1% of an individual’s genetic makeup is identical. The rest is varied by the differences that exist in the species of human beings. This explains why different individuals respond differently to different medications, hence necessitating tailoring the medication to an individual based on their variations.

Example of Personalized Medicine

A good example of the fruits of personalized medicine is Herceptin, which is a drug used in the treatment of cancer. It was approved in 1998. The drug is used to treat breast cancer patients with HER2 tumors. The research implies over 30% of patients with breast cancer test positive for a HER2 protein, which is a tumor that does not respond to standard therapy.

Personalized Medicine vs Precision Medicine: What Is the Difference?

In many spots, personalized medicine and precision medicine overlap. But according to the National Research Council, while personalized medicine refers to treatment tailored to a unique individual, precision medicine is a more narrow term related to a specific medical model based on genetic makeup, lifestyles, and environments.

Personalized medicine is ever more important in modern treatments and the advancement of medicine as science and practice. It helps clinicians apply more appropriate medications and treatments for patients, and will help prevent more and more suffering, even before it happens.

The applications for remote sampling for personalized medicine, toward smarter healthcare, are now beginning to be explored in earnest.

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Originally published Dec 3, 2018 12:25:00 AM, updated on February 23, 2022


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