Personalised Medicine: New Hope for Cancer Care?

Personalised medicines have the potential to transform the lives of cancer patients across Europe and globally. But what are they and how do they improve treatment?

 There is no one-size fits all treatment for cancer and much depends on a person's genetic makeup. A single treatment may affect different people in different ways. To put it simply, the right patients need to receive the right treatment at the right time.

 Tremendous progress made in genetics and related medical technologies are helping to make personalised medicine a reality. Cancer research stands at the forefront of personalised medicine. In the past, treatments were less precise –sometimes killing healthy cells along with the cancerous ones. Today, new personalised medicines can target only unhealthy cells. Yet realizing the promise of personalised medicine will take coordinated efforts by all stakeholders.

Some of the groundwork for that coordination is beginning to take place:

  • EuroBioForum, an ongoing project co-funded by the European Commission, aims to create an interactive platform for life sciences practitioners and funders in the field of personalised medicine.
  • The  Patient Access to Cancer care Excellence (PACE) initiative, a global movement sponsored by Lilly Oncology, exists to encourage public policies and health care decisions that speed the development of new medicines, promote rapid learning from patient experiences, and ensure that cancer treatment and care responds to the needs and qualities of individual patients.

While challenges exist, personalized medicine offers tremendous hope for patients and is undoubtedly the next evolution in health care.