What is Precision Medicine?

It is common sense that treatment has to take into account individual variations to improve therapy. In turn, tailoring of therapies to individual needs (including medical products and patient-specific tissue) and responses will not only improve effectiveness but may also reduce adverse effects. With 3rd generation sequencing, metabolomics and other high-throughput technologies we now have the tools to adapt diagnosis, therapy selection and treatment regimen much more precisely to the very health status of an individual and to prognose with much higher accuracy. In this context, Precision Medicine denotes an emerging treatment approach that takes into account individual genetic/genomic features as well as environmental influences and lifestyles, also to use data mining utilizing recorded clinical data. As precise diagnosis and prognosis is based on multiple genomic and environmental parameters, sophisticated computational and statistical procedures represent a very important component of this approach.

On January 20, 2015, President Obama announced the Precision Medicine Initiative® (PMI) in his State of the Union address and envisaged that “through advances in research, technology and policies that empower patients, the PMI will enable a new era of medicine in which researchers, providers and patients work together to develop individualized care.” While oncology is an avant-garde field of Precision Medicine, the practice currently is not in use for most diseases. In summary, it bears an immense potential, but is still in its infancy.