If you think you’re getting older and it’s all downhill from here on out, then here’s some good news: we’re seeing massive advances in personalized medicine. Every year, the field moves forward, and we get closer to the day when individuals will be able to undergo a health assessment and get treatments designed for them.
The fact that patients respond differently to drugs has been known for a long time. In clinical trials, for instance, you almost always see a wide spread of outcomes. Some patients get better while others see no change. Some are even harmed by the drugs that they take.
The idea of personalized medicine, however, is to tailor drugs to fit the individual. For instance, many elderly people need a lower dose of certain drugs to keep themselves healthy because their livers process the compounds more slowly. However, many studies are done on younger people, and the results might not translate.
Imagine being able to upload your medical history and then talk to a digital personal assistant about your health conditions. It would be cool, right? The robot would scan through all your information and then make recommendations on your current situation.
Brad Schaeffer with MedComp has been tackling issues like these for a long time now and has developed a robot called Roz that’s designed to answer health-related questions. It’s a helpful advance in telemedicine and frees up doctors for the most challenging patients.
The way diseases present themselves differs from person to person. In some people, heart disease takes the form of small clots in all their peripheral blood vessels, leading to numbness and tingling. In others, there are no symptoms until the day that they have a heart attack.
Why this happens is a mystery at the moment. But soon AI will be able to wrap its enormous synthetic mind around the problem and provide meaningful answers.
Artificial intelligence, for instance, could collect data on millions of patients and then look for correlations in the data. It could then use these insights to determine the precise form that disease was likely to take in any individual. This approach would help doctors better manage their patients. And it could even preempt problems years or decades in the future.
Why Isn’t Personalized Medicine Everywhere?
With all these advances, you might be wondering why personalized medicine isn’t everywhere yet.
The reason has to do with ethical issues. For instance, it’s hard for regulators to come up with strict standards for administering drugs based on individual biomarkers and indicators, particularly in the case of genetic disease.
There is also the increased cost of collecting all the necessary data. Scientists might have an inkling that drugs work better in some patients than others. But to make definitive statements about who should receive what, they will need to control for multiple dimensions. And that’s hard.
The truth is that personalized medicine is already here today. But it is going to require a change in computing power to roll it out to the masses effectively.