Personalized Medicine – Matching Treatments to Your Genes

You’re one of a kind. It’s not just your eyes, smile, and personality. Your health, risk for disease, and the ways you respond to medicines are also unique. Medicines that work well for some people may not help you at all. They might even cause problems. Wouldn’t it be nice if treatments and preventive care could be designed just for you? The careful matching of your biology to your medical care is known as personalized medicine. It’s already being used by health care providers nationwide. “If doctors know your genes, they can predict drug response and incorporate this information into the medical decisions they make,” says Dr. Rochelle Long, a pharmacogenomics expert at NIH.

Getting a genetic test usually isn’t difficult. Doctors generally take a sample of body fluid or tissue, such as blood, saliva or skin, and send it to a lab. Most genetic tests used today analyze just one or a few genes, often to help diagnose disease. Newborns, for example, are routinely screened for several genetic disorders by taking a few drops of blood from their heels. When life-threatening conditions are caught early, infants can be treated right away to prevent problems.

The decision about whether to get a particular genetic test can be complicated. Genetic tests are now available for about 2,500 diseases, and that number keeps growing. Your doctor might advise you to get tested for specific genetic diseases if they tend to run in your family or if you have certain symptoms.

Read the full summary and findings here: http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/dec2013/feature1

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