Doctors have always tried to make as accurate a diagnosis as possible for every patient, taking into account their family history, their age and so on. In the past, when prescribing a drug or treatment, they have also taken into account any other illnesses the patient might have, and any likely side effects.
But, recently, this “personalisation” of medicine has changed gear. Advances in technology now mean that doctors are increasingly able to make a more complex and deeper diagnosis and prescribe different drugs, because they can get detailed information about each patient’s individual genetic make up. They also have a better understanding of molecular factors of diseases.
The old ways of working need to change if we are to be able to share the benefits of these advances equally. New drugs are being carefully regulated but what about new methods of diagnosis? Should our existing drugs and diagnostics not be subjected to the same new rigour? These are just some of the questions that are considered by experts in the field who share their experiences in this supplement.
26 March 2012