* Towards Personalised Medicine
Today, many medicines do not work effectively for a large number of the patients they are supposed to treat. Personalised medicine aims to improve this situation by providing the right diagnosis leading to prevention or to treatment at the right dose to the right patient at the right time.
Personalised medicine starts with the patient. However, rather than having a unique treatment for each individual person, patients can be sub-divided into groups based on their individual biological genetic and genomic characteristics. By this stratification of patients, medical interventions can be tailored to be more effective and have fewer undesirable side effects for this particular group, than the currently dominating "one size fits all" medical approach.
Personalised Medicine Research
This booming area of research is taking stock of results from the explosion of -omics related research following the sequencing of the human genome. Examples of relevant areas for personalised medicine include for example genomics, proteomics, metabonomics, epigenomics, pharmacogenomics etc.
Personalised medicine depends on the use of relevant biomarkers and the development of appropriate diagnostic methods, both in vivo and in vitro, for the stratification of patients into groups.
The move towards personalised medicine can be seen as an evolutionary rather than revolutionary process. Although some personalised medicine approaches have already been introduced into practice in Europe, we are at an early stage of its implementation. Significant paradigm shifts will need to take place in major fields of medical research and health care for this innovative area to be fully exploited.
Personalised Medicine in Europe
On 31 October 2013, the Commission published a staff working document that takes stock of the progress made in personalised medicine, and the opportunities and challenges it presents for healthcare systems. The staff working document focuses on the potential for, and issues with, the use of '-omics' technologies in personalised medicine, and the related EU research funding; recent developments in EU legislation for placing medicinal products and devices on the market; and factors affecting the uptake of personalised medicine in health care systems.
On 12-13 May 2011 the Health Directorate of the European Commission's Directorate General for Research and Innovation organised the conference "European Perspectives in Personalised Medicine" with over 450 participants which aimed to take stock of recent achievements in health related research leading to personalised medicine and helped to identify and prioritise future actions needed at the European level.
The conference was preceded by a series of preparatory workshops on personalised medicine held throughout 2010. The workshops focused on current challenges related to "-omics" research, stratification biomarkers, clinical trials and uptake of personalised medicine into healthcare.
An ongoing project co-funded by the European Commission is aiming to create an interactive platform for life sciences performers and funders in the field of personalised medicine. By bringing people together and initiating annual meetings and a strong online community, the project called EuroBioForum aims to assure Europe as a capital region for the research and the implementation of personalised medicine.
Read more about the project here.