Companion Diagnostics – Partnering for Personalized Medicine

September 15, 2010 · 3 comments

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc, MPH

When the Human Genome Project was finally completed with the mapping of the genetic sequences of our DNA, there were many predictions about how the face of medicine would change forever. We would finally figure out how to cure diseases linked to genetic aberrations, find ways to enhance our interaction with the environment, and develop medicines that are tailored to fit our unique genome. But a decade later, we are all aware of just how painfully slow progress has been to date. However, one area that is advancing steadily is the use of companion diagnostics.

Everyone was quick to point to Herceptin and the prototype example of a diagnostic test that was required to be use prior to prescribing this chemotherapeutic agent for women with breast cancer that over-expressed the HER2/neu gene. But now there are more examples of such companion diagnostics, and the list continues to grow.

What does all this mean for the future of medicine, and the interaction among the diagnostic and biopharmaceutical companies? When we can go to a physician’s office, be correctly diagnosed, and then given a medicine to take knowing in advance that we will have a high probability of responding, without suffering from annoying side effects, then we will have personalized medicine.

Does that mean that people will have ... read more »

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Ethics of Gene Therapy to Dominate Healthcare Landscape for Years to Come

June 3, 2010 · 1 comment

Industry Insights from Paul Meade, M. Sc, MPH

During my recent studies for an ethics certificate, I encountered several ethical issues that stimulated my thinking about the future of healthcare.

I would like to address an ethical issue that I feel will dominate the healthcare landscape for the next several decades, in the area of genetics.

With the completion of the Human Genome Project and the mapping of mankind’s blueprint of life, we are beginning to gain a greater understanding of what makes us human. One logical extension of this “knowledge of life” is the ability to control or manipulate life itself. Gene therapy will give us the ability to not only modify our genetic predisposition to diseases, but also to enhance lifestyle abilities. No one would argue the ability to change one base-pair and eliminate Huntington’s disease from an unborn child, but how far is one willing to go to be taller, more athletic, have a gift of music, or become a genius. Who will decide what genetic alterations are acceptable to a society? And who will qualify to have such manipulations—only those that can afford to pay?

The ability to manipulate our genome is the ability to control human evolution itself. No more will we need to rely on random chance and Darwinian principles, such as natural selection–we will be able ... read more »

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