With the knowledge gained from the Human Genome sequencing Project, researchers are learning how inherited differences in genes affect the body’s response to medications.
Although the term “precision medicine” is relatively new, the underlying concept that the therapeutic interventions need to be tailored to the patient´s genes, lifestyle and environment, has been a part of medicine for many years.
For example, blood transfusions are not given randomly but the donor’s blood type is matched to the recipient to reduce the risk of complications.
Many drugs don’t work the same way for different populations around the world. For some drugs, such as statins (routinely used to lower cholesterol) as few as one in 50 patients may benefit from regular intake.
It can be difficult to predict who will benefit from a prescription, who will not respond at all, and who will experience negative side effects (adverse drug reactions).
There are even drugs that are harmful to certain ethnic groups; this is often found out by chance after approval, because of the bias towards the participants of a certain origin in classical clinical trials.
Therefore, using precision medicine as an aid to plan clinical trials catches much attention in the present era of drug development.