A Doctor in Your Pocket: Future of Personalized Medicine

image by Alex Nabaum, WSJWhat does the future of medicine hold?

Tiny health monitors and tailored therapies, says David B. Agus, author of “The End of Illness,” a book to be published Tuesday by Free Press. Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal published an adaptation of that, and my posting here is a short summary of the WSJ article.

Dr. Agus believes that most of the medical conditions that kill us, such as cancer and heart disease, can be prevented or delayed with personalized medicine, but we don’t yet know enough about how the body works to do the things that avoid causes and prevent illness. He thinks, however, that the end of illness is near.

He describes the future of medicine as holding a big shift from the today’s model, where we currently wait for the body to break before we treat it. We’ll soon be able to  adjust our health in real time with help from smartphone apps and wearable sensors that track proteins and the inner workings of cells. We’ll monitor what happens when we exercise, eat more salmon or dark chocolate, or take drug x at dosage y.

The article says we’ll soon be able to map an individual’s entire genetic sequence for less than $1,000 and, with a drop of blood tested by a personal bio-chip, create a personal action plan that includes both preventive measures and treatment therapies for illnesses that we catch at much earlier stages.

Equally exciting is how anonymously collected health data can populate a universal database used in field trials to speed our understanding of which drugs work best for which people. The database will help researchers and individuals notice correlations between how people with a particular genetic code respond to one type of treatment or another.

Our free assessment survey is an example. It anonymously collects information about your personal traits, living conditions, family and financial support, and medical history to identify correlations and make recommendations for aging-in-place. That data also feeds a database used by medical researchers at the University of Texas working on personalized medicine, so taking time to do the survey helps others as well as yourself.


Related Videos:

Ari Meisel’s story (6:16 video) – Four years ago Ari was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a chronic inflammation of the bowels. After much pain and going in and out of hospitals, he decided to overhaul his health-care regimen. He’s part of a movement of citizen scientists who are turning their bodies – and their lives – into personal laboratories.

Walt Mossberg reports (4:37 video) on his own experience with Diebetes and a new wireless glucose meter by Telcare.