On the Cutting Edge of Personalized Medicine: Genetics and Genomics

OLD LYME, CT — SEPTEMBER 25, 2015 — Whether you call it personalized medicine, individualized medicine or precision medicine, the customization of health care with decisions and treatments tailored to each individual patient is greatly influenced by both genetics and genomics. Currently, more than 100 drugs have label information regarding pharmacogenomic biomarkers (genomics), some measurable or identifiable segment of genetic information that can be used to direct the use of a drug. Additionally, genes also identify those at risk (genetics) for disease; these patients may benefit from preventative and preemptive care. With personalized medicine, molecular biomarkers can allow the physician to better predict how a patient will respond to a particular drug based on their test results. It is also possible to identify who needs and who does NOT need aggressive treatment.

The use of genetic testing is expanding at a tremendous rate. Per the GeneTests website, a database of available genetic and biochemical tests from various genetic testing companies, there are 44,010 tests for 4,214 genetic conditions currently listed. This expanding area of medicine necessitates the education of health care providers beyond traditional clinicians to include those with specific expertise in genetics: the genetic counselor.

Recognizing the increasing role of genetic counselors in personalized medicine, The France Foundation has recently expanded its collaborations beyond traditional clinician organizations to include the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC). With the successful recent launch of interactive cases on Familial Hypercholesterolemia (a collaboration between The France Foundation, the NSGC and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners), we are venturing into our next partnership that highlights the role of the genetic counselor and also brings in the patient perspective. Along with NSGC, The France Foundation is partnering with Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) to bring creative education at the upcoming American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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