Monday, June 30, 2014

Precision vs. personalized vs. stratified medicine: Let’s pick a name

By Scott Wallask
Conference Producer, IBC Life Sciences

I’m not sure why, but my 2-year-old son, Mac, has a lot of nicknames. Most of them have been given to him by his older brothers.

At varying times in my house, Mac is called:
  • • Mackey
  • • The Key, a derivative of the prior nickname
  • • Mackey James, which is funny because James is not his middle name
  • • Little Tin Shorts, a moniker which my older sons claim came from their air conditioner (I didn’t inquire further)
Now, if you don’t live with Mac or read this blog, you might never know what his actual name is after listening to my kids talk to him.

I feel the same way about personalized medicine. Or is it precision medicine? Or how about stratified medicine? Personalized health care? Targeted drug treatment? Medicine on-demand?

Okay, I’m being facetious with the final suggestion. In the end, we’re talking about the trend away from one-size-fits-all treatments to an approach that considers a patient’s genetic make-up as a prime factor in how to combat a disease that afflicts that individual.

If we’re going to sell this concept to the masses, however, it needs to have a name we can all agree to.

I don’t care how we choose it: We can draw straws or spin a wheel. The drug development community can hold a contest. World leaders can issue a proclamation.

We once had a similar problem up here in the Boston area, where the offices of IBC Life Sciences are located. There’s a highway that rings around Boston about 10 miles from the city. It goes by various names, including Interstate 95 and the Yankee Division Highway.

But long ago, the local residents decided they were going to call it by its state-designated name, Route 128. That’s what drivers, cops, and traffic reporters all call it, and this arrangement works well because we all know what highway we’re referring to.

Personalized/targeted/precision treatments need the Route 128 approach.

Learn more about the data and technology behind precision medicine at IBC’s Personalized Medicine Technology and Analytics Forum on September 19 in Philadelphia. A featured presentation from the FDA will look at the regulatory considerations behind companion diagnostics in clinical trials.

Follow Scott on Twitter @Scott_biopharma

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