24 October, 2016 - 15:58 (Research Matters)
What you do when you are sick? Obviously you go to a doctor. You tell him/her what your problem is, s/he examines you with a stethoscope to monitor your heartbeat at various regions of your body and then you get some medicines. Now, if your friend goes to the doctor with the same problem, s/he gets similar medicines. Some of us may have observed that some medicines work for us, while others don’t. The reason behind this is obvious - no two individuals on this earth are exactly the same, not even identical twins. This is due to the fact that we have different genetic makeup - different DNA. DNA controls all our bodily activities. If you think of disease treatment with this in mind, it is obvious that your body will react to a drug differently than my body.
Would it be nice if you get a custom made medicine, just like how you order a pizza with toppings of your choice? This is idea is called as ‘personalized medicine’ or more precisely –‘genomic medicine’. So how does it work? You first need to get your DNA sequenced and analyzed from a laboratory and show that report to your doctor. He/she would go through the analysis of your DNA, by which s/he would know which medicines would really work for you. But wait, it's not as simple as it looks! The idea is still on papers and has a long way to go before widespread implementation. One barrier is the high cost involved. But, given the rapid rate at which the DNA analysis techniques are developing, we may see some form of personalised medicine in about a decade or so.