When asking the question of what the weather will be tomorrow, we can easily find the answer paging through the morning newspaper, turning the dials on the radio or TV stations, or just by surfing on the Internet. The weather forecast is an essential piece of information which allows us to make an immediate decision, such as what kind of clothing to wear, depending on the temperature climate, in order to not get too warm or too cold. It can also let us know if our flight to San Francisco was cancelled due to extreme weather conditions. Such dependable information gives us the comfort of awareness, but our lives will not be endangered if we do not have any knowledge about it.
The situation seems completely different when inquiring about one’s health for the next day, week or month. There are three possible scenarios: we will wake up in great shape, we will wake up being sick, perhaps with a cold or flu, or we will find out our future will never be the same because we will get diagnosed with a terminal illness.
So, how can we predict one’s well-being as accurately as we can predict the weather?
The answer for this question is crucial for our human existence, so why don’t we know the answer? Presently, we do not have the answers yet, but it looks like this is going to change very soon. Temporary medicine is going in the direction of predictive and preventive.
Biotechnology is driving these changes. The widespread availability of sensors and transmitters, massive use of mobile devices, increase in sophistication of the Internet and data analytics, make them happen rapidly.
These tremendous hopes come from a discovery of human genome, that give us an unprecedented opportunity for contemplate our own biological and psychological make-ups. Thanks to rapid progress in the technology arena, the cost of genome sequencing came to the consumer world. The full genome analysis is still for many of us out of financial reach but for an affordable price it is possible to get a sample of personal characteristics and evaluation of risk to certain illnesses and their ancestries. That opens the door for personalized medicine where drugs are prescribed specifically for the patient’s biochemistry instead of blind errors.
American biologist, expert in biotechnology field, Leroy Hood, described the future of medicine as 4P: Predictive, Preventive, Personalized and Participatory. Predictive and Preventive use the genome characteristics and environmental conditions to forecast what is necessary to maintain wellness and prevent future illnesses. Personalized and Participatory because it is target certain individual who is involved in collecting and interpreting the data about his/hers health condition.
Often or non-stop monitoring the body functions and transferring this data to medical personnel can be very helpful in preventive and personalized medicine. Not that long ago, the medical patients were going through routine, basic medical tests and their data information were stored in the medical clinics until their next visit. Today digital health goes mainstream. Smartphones, our personalized computers, stores our medical data and give us the opportunities like never before. Due to many applications on its screen we can monitor our sleep pattern, measure blood pressure, evaluate the stress level or monitor taking prescribed drugs and storage all those information for easy access for a patient and medical personnel.
Today medicine changed our approach to diagnosis and cure the illnesses as well as our thinking about longevity. It hard to imagine that DNA sequencing was discover only 60 years ago.