HARMONY in personalized Medicine
The availability of huge amounts of personalized data from many patients becomes even more important when medicine becomes more personal. Cross-analysis of this data is a prerequisite for gaining new insights and devising helpful approaches. There is a news item from the university of Ulm that highlights this aspect: (Translated from the original news:) Big Data, i.e. huge amounts of data is regarded as an excellent opportunity for medical research. Patients with diseases of the hematopoietic system (generating blood cells) might profit from a unique data collection: 51 partners from 11 European countries collect anonymized patient data in the project HARMONY (Healthcare Alliance for Resourceful Medicines Offensive against Neoplasms in HematologY) funded with several million EUROs. Analysis of this huge amount of data shall yield valuable insights into diseases such as leukemias (AML, CLL, ALL), lymphomas, multiple myeloma, myelodysplastic syndrome, or malign diseases of the hematopoietic system in children. A thorough discussion of data protection guidelines and their necessary adaptations is meaningful and required in this respect. It is mandatory to prevent data protection guidelines from harming the very patients they should protect. Our member Dr. E. Precht alerted us to this news. Many thanks for that! Framework text by Thomas Werner, Chairman of the executive committee
Definitions - scientific background - examples Personalized Medicine is a relatively new field joining molecular biology, computer science, information technology, and medicine. The overarching aim is to optimize consulting, diagnosis, and treatment based on the individual characteristics of each patient (or sometimes patient group). I am currently the chairman of the association m4 Personalized Medicine and we defined it as our goal to support the essential discussion of personalized medicine aiming to foster a consensus regarding some key issues in our society. This includes scientists and specialists but should ideally also include ethics, health care providers, and patients. However, the basic knowledge, explanations of the circulating terms, as well as hard facts about pilot projects and other things are currently spread over the internet. All accessible in principle, but sometimes hard to find, apparently contradictory in part, and entirely unordered. I will try in this blog to collect and explain the most common terms simultaneously adding them to a framework hopefully facilitating understanding. There is no doubt that this will be a collection biased by my personal knowledge and experience, some things might even be missing entirely. That is the reason why this in my personal blog and neither the association nor any other individual has to assume any responsibility for the content. This is absolutely intended as this blog is meant as a mere starting point for a targeted discussion, and by leaving comments that contribute to the overall aim everybody can help to shape this into a more common consensus. The blog will be published every Friday each week, except for a few breaks. It will appear in its own location marked in the menu as “TW’s PM Blog E” (only this announcement is published on the other blog pages as well). It is published in parallel in German and English as it is placed on the publicly accessible part of our web page. This English version is no direct translation from the German text but I intend to adapt it to international aspects wherever I see this fit. What’s coming up next? Next week the first part of the introduction will be published
Randomized personalized medicine?
Lancet Oncology published an article in 2015 about a fully randomized study in personalized medicine. The comment highlights a few aspects with respect to how meaningful such an approach is. Full comment can be found in our download area (Download).