Personalized medicine involves the tailoring of medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient. This approach relies on scientific breakthroughs in our understanding of how a person’s unique genetic and molecular profile makes them susceptible to certain diseases. This same approach is increasing our ability to predict which medical treatments will be safe and effective for each patient, and which ones will not be. Personalized medicine = the right therapy for the right person at the right time.
Personalized medicine may be considered an extension of traditional approaches to understanding and treating disease. Equipped with tools that are more precise, physicians can select a therapy or treatment protocol based on a patient’s unique molecular profile that may not only minimize harmful side effects and ensure a more successful outcome, but can also help contain costs compared with a “trial-and- error” approach to disease treatment. Personalized medicine has the potential to change the way we think about, identify, and manage health problems. It is already having an exciting impact on both clinical research and patient care, and this impact will grow as our understanding and technologies improve. Key to the development of personalized medical treatments is the ability to collect, preserve, store, ship, and analyze the patient’s unique molecular profiles (biomarkers) contained in the patient’s biospecimens.