Have you ever googled the word “precision”? Words linked to turbine engines, long-lasting tires and even industrial cameras pop up. But, what I didn’t see was anything related to precision medicine. Precision medicine is “an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person,” as described by the National Institutes of Health. This approach will allow doctors and researchers to predict more accurately which treatment and prevention strategies for a particular disease will work in which groups of people.
It is in contrast to a “one-size-fits-all” approach, in which disease treatment and prevention strategies are developed for the average person, with less consideration for the differences between individuals. And this scientific approach has the potential to help those living with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
An extraordinary example of precision medicine is the crusade of the University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers and the development of pulmospheres.
Pulmospheres are 3-D spherical models of human lungs created from cells derived from lung biopsies of patients with or without IPF, a fatal lung disease with no cure. These models, the pulmospheres, can accurately predict a patient’s drug responsiveness to two current IPF medications.
These human-based models for drug testing advance precision medicine by allowing the efficacy of drugs to be tested for each patient prior to administration to avoid exposing patients to unnecessary harmful side effects.