Blog by Dr. Bill Chin

Harvard Personalized Medicine Conference

11.14.13 | By Dr. Bill Chin

The healthcare community is at an important juncture; we must work together to ensure that policies and regulations align to help us meet the unique challenges and full potential of personalized medicine. Science and technology drive what we can achieve, but they also evolve over time. We, too, must evolve and adapt to this rapidly changing environment.

Indeed, as I told participants at the 9th Annual Harvard Personalized Medicine Conference last week, the continuing development of personalized medicines holds promise to define our age and change everything we do. These treatments will affect how we approach once seemingly intractable medical challenges, how we research and develop new medicines, and how patients interact with physicians and our healthcare delivery system.

The biopharmaceutical industry is strongly committed to researching and developing personalized medicines.  A Tuft’s University survey found that biopharmaceutical companies increased their investment in personalized medicines by 75% between 2005 and 2010. In fact, between 12 and 50% of all compounds currently being researched are potential personalized medicines, which are targeting a growing range of diseases that may be identifiable through a genetic test or biomarker – from depression to obesity to many forms of cancer. Through these advances, we are shifting from reactive to proactive medicine, possibly enabling us to identify a patient’s risk before symptoms appear, and to transform our approaches to diagnosis and treatment.

But with these hopes, there are hurdles.  We all know that we need forward-looking policies that foster innovation and a regulatory system that is in line with advances in science. But we also need strong collaboration among biopharmaceutical companies, academics, patients, hospitals, government labs and others to pave the way for the science and its application.

Achieving the full power and potential of personalized medicine is an urgent priority. But it is an attainable goal only if we work together. On behalf of our patients I urge everyone in our health care community to continue working across sectors and disciplines to advance personalized medicine.

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