Personalised medicine to be the wave of the near future?

I recently came across this article “Genetics Will Change Vaccination and Other Drug Administration” that encapsulates the recent developments in the field of bio-science and medicine and drug administration focussing on a personalized level, tailor-made to suit every individual’s needs and demand throughout their life-time on one of my favourite blogs, Money FYI and thought I would do a recapitulation of a part of text from an old article “September Round Up

Back in September, 2013, I attended the Science Academies’ Lecture Workshop (held in my college) on the Recent Advancements in Animal Research sponsored by the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, The Indian National Science Academy, New Delhi, and The National Academy of Sciences, Allahabad.

Here’s some highlights from all the interesting stuff I came across. (Note: Working on animal models isn’t a direct part of my line of study/specialization, but life sciences are interdisciplinary so we need to understand how the basic aspects of all related fields of sciences work and how when utilized together, they can produce certain results that would not have been possible without conjunction).

I will highlight some of the interesting stuff I came across and also about the topic in relation to post’s title.

  • It started with a History of Science and how science was romanticized due to various political movements and the development of modern science in the 19th century. Then came the Darwin’s Theory of Evolution by the process of Natural Selection followed by Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance, and Watson, Crick and Rosalind Franklin‘s structure of DNA  soon followed by Genetic Engineering and finally the HUMAN GENOME PROJECT (completed in 2003).

  • The second lecture began with the query “Are you listening? Or are you just here because you have been invited and you lack the basic interest in science.” It further went on how important it was to widen the Intellectual horizon and really put the human intelligence to work. And the necessities of having a broad mind. They said and I quote, “Since, without a broad mind, you can’t achieve big things. Small minds achieve nothing. There is a lot of negativism in the world around us. You are the people who have to change this.” They said addressing the future scientists of India present in that auditorium.
  • Did you know that a bacterium, Helicobacter pyroli was responsible for causing gastric ulcers and that can sometimes lead to cancer in stomach? Barry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren were the ones who discovered this. It was at first rejected by the major Medical Conferences. They had found that the population of this bacterium in the stomach increased after taking antacids (probably the highest selling drug in the world). Since, antacids increase the stomach pH (ie, towards a neutral pH), and the bacterium which basically reside in the microvilli of the stomach to avoid the gastric juices, freely reproduce and feed on the mucus membrane of the stomach (mucus is made of a protein mucin and carbohydrate and is slippery to touch). They weren’t unable to prove this fact by tests on animal systems so they decided to test it on themselves in the presence of media and other scientists and doctors. Soon they developed certain ulceration symptoms including vomiting blood. Later on, they were awarded the Nobel prize in Physiology/ Medicine in 2005 for their work.
  • WHY DO WE USE ANIMAL MODELS? Animals are used as models for research on human diseases on the basis of similarity in physiology and anatomy. They help us understand the biochemical, genomic and cognitive perspectives. Caenorhabtidis elegans, a nematode, fruit fly, zebra fish, and mice are commonly used as animal systems. (Disclaimer: this site does not propagate testing on animals. The site owners are not involved in any experiments that deal with testing on animals.) The cell signalling pathways that leads to programmed cell death and apoptosis in human were discovered in C. elegans. We cannot use humans as subjects of experiments due to obvious reasons, for example, if we consider HIV that causes AIDS: HIV can be killed by pouring bleach in a test tube containing them, but we cannot use bleach in a human system.

There are many studies that are being conducted to identify naturally occurring substances that can be used to treat cancer. A certain plant has been discovered and the volatile oils it produces is now being used to treat lung cancer. The oil is used in an inhaler since surgery is not possible in lung cancer cases.The Hungarian Pig is used as a model to study obesity and diabetes in Humans. Monkeys are sometimes used as they exhibit engagement in new and risky practices and behaviour much like young human beings engage in high-risk social behaviour like drinking, smoking , doing drugs and having multiple sexual partners.

And finally! Drumroll please..

  • PERSONALISED MEDICINE? A decade after the HGP was completed, it is estimated that in the future it would be easy for an individual to get their DNA PROFILED and with the help of their doctor, get personalized treatments and preventive measures. Genes are sort of unpredictable and due to HUMAN GENETIC VARIATION, the medicine that works well on one sub population may have adverse effects on another. This field of study is known as Pharmacogenomics.

Cosmetic manufacturing companies are also using the data from HGP and based on genetic variability are coming up with products such as these (GENIFIQUE by Lancome):

Anti aging creams such as these use the protein products of certain genes that are responsible for slowing down the again process.

ยฉThe Idea Bucket, 2013-2014. Submitted by Ananya.

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