Personalised medicine is a field that holds a lot of promise. The goal of this research field is to develop approaches and tools that help in predicting, preventing and treating diseases. Personalised medicine involves tailoring treatment according to the genetic profile and molecular signatures of each patient. Targeted drug treatments can ensure better drug efficacy and fewer side effects.
Profound knowledge of the molecular characteristics of disease is needed for redefining the disease and selecting the patients that will likely response to a specific treatment. Identification of these patient subgroups would also facilitate the process of proving the efficacy of new medicines. Hence, personalised medicine is one of the research areas that greatly benefit from large patient sample collections and population cohorts (biobanks).
Personalised medicine is still at an early stage of development and a lot of work and collaboration is needed before it will affect the way healthcare is deliver. Healthcare professionals and patients should have enough information to be able to deal with these new approaches and the wealth of genetic information produced. As the technology platforms develop, the price of genome sequencing becomes even more affordable and information of the genetic make-up of individuals becomes more and more available. This will bring along new questions. How do we interpret genetic information as individuals? How does society regulate the use of genetic information and gene technology and what is science journalists’ role in reporting these subjects? And what global aspects does personalized medicine have – does it offer future treatments only for rich or is it available for all?
The session will give an insight into the development of personalized medicine and its future prospects. It will also highlight the media’s view on reporting the steps in scientific development in this area of research.
This session is organized by Academy of Finland and University of Helsinki. It will be hosted by Professor Olli Kallioniemi and Senior Researcher Elisabeth Widén from the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), University of Helsinki. The session includes a discussion on journalists’ experiences and views on reporting on genetic research.
Professor Olli Kallioniemi has developed methods that facilitate quick and effective translation of genomic research towards diagnostics and therapeutic applications. His current research project concentrates on uncovering drugs and drug combinations with unexpected cancer-specific therapeutic potential using acute myeloid leukemia as a model disease. Dr. Widén studies the genetics of puberty and adult health and is the coordinator of a project that aims to utilize Finnish genome data to empower personalised and predictive health.
Producers: Mari Kaunisto, Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), Riitta Tirronen, Academy of Finland and Päivi Lehtinen, University of Helsinki