Genetics-based personalized medicine gets big data boost

With the help of big data that shows the effectiveness of various treatment regimens on different kinds of patients, personalized medicine can "better match patients with complex diseases to the best therapies, eliminating the trial-and-error process that often has resulted in ineffective treatments, particularly in the use of pharmaceuticals," according to an article in
The power to conduct that level of analysis now rests with many healthcare systems, Jon Duke, M.D., investigator and innovation officer for the Regenstrief Institute in Indianapolis, told the publication. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, for example, recently announced a five-year, $100 million project launching a data warehouse for personalized medicine.
In other cases, private industry is partnering to provide rapid genomic analysis to healthcare providers. The health technology company NantHealth, for example, recently announced a collaboration with several other companies including Blue Shield of California, Intel and Hewlett-Packard to launch a supercomputing platform that can analyze cancer genomes in just seconds.
"We needed a national supercomputing infrastructure that brings genomic medicine into clinical practice. By placing supercomputers in the hands of physicians, that need is now a reality," Patrick Soon-Shiong, the founder of NantHealth, said in a statement.  
Meanwhile, federal regulations and policies must be updated to fully leverage the potential of Big Data to "individualize" diagnosis and treatment, the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution said in its January 2011 report, "Enabling Personalized Medicine through Health Information Technology: Advancing the Integration of Information."
Incentives for health IT implementation should ensure that the invested infrastructure is one that supports new-care paradigms as opposed to automating yesterday's health care practices, Brookings concluded in the report, notes amednews.
To learn more:
- read the amednews article
- here's the Brookings report
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