Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2004
The revolution of personalized medicine: are we going to cure all diseases and at what price?
Chairperson: Piergiorgio Strata
Life expectancy increased by at least thirty years in the twentieth century. Will it continue to increase? How long will we live?
Much will depend on new technological devices, the ability to substitute degenerated tissues with functional tissues and on new drugs. Above all, it will depend on the availability of less casual procedures to discover new treatments given that these are still developed using molecule screening without an understanding of the action mechanisms involved and on the assumption that diseases are the same in different people. Targeted strategies to forecast efficacy and effects in each individual patient are required.
As we are genetically and epigenetically unique, we do not all have the same prostate cancer or the same diabetes and treatment needs to be tailor-made or carefully personalised. This requires using technologies which determine individual molecular and biochemical profiles. This new medicine is costly and raises bioethical issues, in particular as regards privacy safeguards.