There are lots of myths and misconceptions surrounding personalized healthcare. Over the next few weeks, I am going to address some of these beliefs to help you better understand the truths about this exciting field.
Myth: Personalized healthcare is a “crystal ball” into my future health
Using personalized healthcare tools such as family history, doctors can predict the likelihood that you will develop a particular disease or whether a medication will be more or less effective for you. Personalized healthcare can direct your care, but it cannot predict the future with certainty.
Doctorscan look at your family health history for patterns of disease. They can use that information to assess your risk of developing diseases. If you are more likely to develop a disease, doctors can advise you about ways to slow the disease process or prevent it altogether. However, they can’t say for certain, “You will develop this disease.”
The same holds true for predicting how you will respond to medication — pharmacogenetics — although sometimes there is a more definite yes or no answer. It varies from drug to drug, and genetic testing for drugs can focus on safety, efficacy in dosing, or both.
For example, before doctors can prescribe abacavir, a drug used to treat human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections, patients are strongly recommended to have a specific genetic test done. This genetic test can tell if they are likely to have a hypersensitivity reaction (allergic reaction) to the drug. Because such reactions can be so severe, including death, it is important to know who can safely take abacavir.
Genetic testing for other drugs may have a different focus: efficacy. For example, clopidogrel is used to prevent blood clots in the body, and a genetic test can help determine if a patient will metabolize the drug quickly or slowly. People who metabolize the drug slowly may require a higher dose for the medication to work as intended. If these “poor metabolizers” are not identified before starting treatment with clopidogrel, they may receive too low a dose, leading to the formation of blood clots.
As you can see, personalized healthcare is not a crystal ball, but rather more like eyeglasses — it can’t predict the future, but it can help you see it more clearly!
Source: Heath Club