Personalized medicine vs. stratified medicine
The proclaimed goal of personalized medicine is to provide each patient with a therapy tailored to his or her needs and with the most suitable drugs. In fact, it is not – at least not yet – about the characteristics of a distinctive individual, but rather about the classification of a patient into a subpopulation with a certain subtype of the respective disease, which is distinguished from other subtypes by specific characteristics, “biomarkers”. This process of stratification or grouping is called stratification.
The fundamental novelty of personalized or stratified medicine is the targeted search for biomarkers that enable grouping into subgroups in the first place. The search for suitable biomarkers is therefore in full swing. The number of drugs approved for personalized medicine in Germany is still quite small at around 50. However, the proportion of drugs in clinical research is already over 40 percent.
Expectations are particularly high in the field of oncology. It was not until the genomes of individual tumors, which appeared to be similar, began to be decoded that the extent of heterogeneity at the molecular level became apparent. Today, the analysis of the tumor genome with all its mutations represents the basis for personalized therapy.
At the Heidelberg National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT), the declared goal is to offer complete tumor sequencing to all patients. The laboratory facilities and computing or storage capacities (10 terabytes/day) required for this are provided by the neighboring German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). For comparison: this corresponds to the volume of data provided by the Hubble telescope per year.
Anja Fürbach, Market Intelligence Senior Expert
- BIOPRO Magazin 2/2018