Personalized Medicine: The New Paradigm in the Prevention and Treatment of Diseases

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The first international symposium of personalized medicine “Leroy Hood,” was held on Thursday, February 6, at the Sheraton Maria Isabel Reforma Hotel & Towers in Mexico City, where the Latin American Association of Personalized Medicine (ALAMP) proposed analyzing the advances of personalized medicine by training and offering the necessary tools for the clinical application in Mexico and the America.

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In Latin America, Mexico is the pioneer in genetic test applications. Personalized medicine has only been around for the last 15 years. The ALAMP’s intention with personalized medicines was to decrease and identify the predisposition of diseases, and to increase the success rate of therapy.

A list of international and national guests gathered at this ALAMP sponsored event. Attendees included Stefan Long, director of the science department at General Genetics Corporation, the number one laboratory in the study of ADN in the world; Dr Felipe Vázquez Estupiñán, specialist in family therapy; and Dr. Bernard Esquivel, president of ALAMP, who discussed the transition that personalized medicine proposes for healthy and sick individuals, as well as for health systems, through the integration of personalized medicine into clinical practice of genetic examinations that strengthen such care.

The first international symposium of personalized medicine was directed at any health professional that wanted to incorporate their field in the diverse areas of personalized medicine. This included establishment of the protocols of prevention, follow up and monitoring to the development of specific adequate treatments, and the genetic characteristics of each individual.

As defined by the President’s Council of Advisors of Science and Technology, “personalized medicine” discerns if the processes that apply to a patient, or a to a group of patients, are appropriate from view point of the proposed strategies as the response to a specific medicine will be different from the present responses of a patient affected by the same condition. This has allowed, and will continue to allow, the introduction of predictors of any disease, whether it be the presence of mutations of oncogenes, or of regular tumor genes.

This algorithm explains the vision of Mexico for personalized medicine: based on the molecular profile of the patient (his genome), regardless of his age, it identifies the susceptibility of various conditions to develop in the patient. Subsequently they establish educational mechanisms/institutions like nutrition (Nutrigenomics; the individualization of micro-macro nutrients according to the metabolic level expressed by the genes), habits, etc., with the intention of preventing the onset of the disease. Since we are not aware of all the environmental factors that trigger diseases, there is always the possibility of more developing factors. Therefore, it is very important to establish a customized program aimed at the early detection of such pathogens. If one detects many diseases in their initial stage (among these are many types of cancer), one can implement appropriate therapeutic measures that eradicate these diseases or control them quickly, preventing further damage and degeneration of the patient (which is the case in non-communicable chronic diseases, or diabetes).

The first international symposium of personalized medicine addressed issues in various areas of genetic medicine, and addressed the steps that Mexico is taking as the pioneer in its application of personalized medicine in Latin America. As a country, Mexico hopes to reduce the unfavorable economic impact of the 25 chronic-degenerative prevalent diseases in the next 20 years by applying immediate preventive measures through a simple genetic test. The proposed test would cost $420 dollars, which will allow saving on treatment costs. Currently, there are 12.8 million future diabetics that could spend up to $448,000 if they don’t detect their disease earlier.

For example, as we know, type 2 diabetes mellitus is one of the major causes of death in Mexico and has a pre-pathogenic period (before it appears, which highlights the genetic susceptibility), and a pathogenic period (with the onset of the disease) stage that doesn’t present symptoms. Approximately two years later after the onset of the disease, a large number of the patients are not yet diagnosed, until they have an acute complication, i.e., with the hospital emergency room.

Applying the proposed model of personalized medicine to these patients may:

A)    Delay the onset of the diseases by many years, which allows for a better quality of life for the patient and a very important economic savings cost for his or her social security.

B)    Detect the diseases before they cross the clinical horizon. With continual monitoring, the patients can prevent the appearance of the insulin resistance syndrome (previously known as prediabetes), which unlike the already established disease, is curable.

C)    Establish a customized nutrition program for the patient by means of Nutrigenomics, which helps to decrease the possibility of complications from the disease.

D)    Select the correct medicine for the patient at the appropriate doses, allowing for cost-savings, and reducing complications and adverse reactions to the wrong medicine. Additionally, it decreases unnecessary hospital admissions. To clarify, investing about $420 in a patient can save a minimum of $3,193 per year which delays the establishment of the pathogen, and also creates a dramatic decrease in the number of patients that are the cause of the major economic expenditure of our health care system due to chronic renal failure.

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Alex Thompson