Precision Medicine and Genomics

Once Upon a Time There Was Medicine


For over two thousand years, medicine has never wavered from its aspiration of being personalized. In Antiquity, Hippocrates would combine an assessment of the four humours – blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile – to determine what was then considered the best course of treatment for each patient. Today, research into DNA is helping us gain greater insight into diseases. For example, we can now more accurately predict whether a person will develop an illness, respond positively to treatment or suffer a serious reaction to a drug.


Genomics, at the heart of personalized medicine

What is different about medicine today, and the reason the word “personalized” has been added, is that genomics has enabled a better understanding of human genetics and diseases. With current advances in research, personalized medicine is increasingly able to tailor care to individual patients based not only on the specific genetic and biological traits of their diseases but also on their environment and lifestyle.

Personalized medicine is a reality in many areas, and the progress underway in genetics, proteomics, and metabolomics and in terms of its social aspects, will accelerate, in years to come, the adoption of this new way of practising medicine.

Today, the concept of personalized medicine is a broad area that includes health care as well as our lifestyle. This is why we also refer to it as personalized health or personalized healthcare.


What about in Québec?

Many countries have embarked on the journey toward personalized medicine and Québec is no exception with the development of the newly coined term “personalized health care.”

Québec researchers and physicians fared extremely well in the latest personalized medicine competition across Canada launched in 2012, taking home more than 60 percent of the funding available, a Canadian first. The projects will contribute to advances in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases in a whole range of areas, such as cancer, pediatrics, neuroscience, rare diseases, cardiovascular diseases and inflammatory diseases, and will generate over $100 million in investments to develop genomics in Québec.

To learn more about the work of Québec researchers in personalized medicine, click here.

When we talk about precision medicine, we often talk about genetic testing. To learn more on this subject, click here

About P4 Medicine...

Leroy Hood of the Institute for Systems Biology, has recently defined personalized medicine more broadly as P4 Medicine™,  in reference to its four key attributes:

  • P4 Medicine is personalized: it takes into account a person’s genetic or protein profile.
  • P4 Medicine is preventive: it anticipates health problems and focuses on wellness, not disease.
  • P4 Medicine is predictive: it directs appropriate treatment and avoids drug reactions.
  • P4 Medicine is participatory: it empowers patients to take more responsibility for their health and care.