The Future of Medicine – DNA and Pharmacogenomics

This will be the last DNA dedicated post.

Modern Medicine has done a lot in the last couple of centuries. We found penicillin and antibiotics, vaccines have become more effective and anaesthetics became more widely used. Even things like modern pharmacology were born, giving thousands of life saving drugs. In short millions, probably billions, of lives have been saved. But there are still a lot of problems.

Psychiatric drugs for instance are continuously failing. Patients end up cycling through the same old list which, whilst are effective for many, often fail for others and in both instances they can give some nasty side effects. This is mostly because we have no idea how a lot of it works and why it works.

On the other hand we find people having allergic reactions to many of the drugs that are supplied. This can range from a mild rash in reaction to penicillin. Or a life threatening reaction to some anaesthetic drugs (like halothane) that require immediate and emergency treatment. Although the risk of this happening is far less than 1 in a 1000.

Overall Medicine has done a lot of good, but there have been drawbacks. Pharmacogenomics is purported to be a solution to most of these. Here is how:

Firstly, every patient will need to give a sample of DNA for full analysis. This will then be kept on a medical database. (Do I hear people shouting about a breach of privacy? Or Big Brother using this for DNA fingerprinting?)

More Effective Healthcare vs. Privacy?

The next step is to then compare all of these genes with known risk factors of certain disorders, but probably more importantly allergies against drugs and factors that help drugs to work.

This means that the patient can then receive a fully personalised drug prescription that is tailored not only to their disorder, but to how their own body works.

This won’t cure the world of all illness or anything, but it will make medicine a bit more effective.

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