What is personalised medicine?

Personalised medicine is a broad field that aims to use what we can measure about individuals to inform healthcare. To some extent, medicine has always been personalised. There has been a recent explosion in the amount of data that we generate for individuals; personalised medicine addresses how we can use this vast array of data to more effectively diagnose and treat patients, as well as predict disease risk in the population.

For example, we know that some people are more susceptible to certain diseases, or to having specific health issues. When we try to treat these conditions, some individuals respond better to certain drugs and therapies. Understanding the reasons for this variability, whether it be underlying biology, socioeconomic factors or environmental influences, can help identify the best drug to give to the right patient, and / or highlight strategies to prevent disease in vulnerable communities. Using individual-level data on millions of molecular and physical measures may help us improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment for groups of individuals.

Whilst we believe that personalised medicine is hugely powerful when done right, it also raises significant clinical, ethical, legal, economic and societal challenges. It is both these benefits and challenges that the CPM is here to discuss.

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