Jeffrey Golden, MD, Chair of the Department of Pathology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), defines precision medicine and discusses three areas where BWH is applying precision medicine to improve patient care.
Precision medicine gathers, analyzes and synthesizes information about a person’s genes, proteins, microbes, environment and health and combines this with data from the medical literature, clinical trials and population health studies, to prevent, diagnose, predict, and treat diseases for individual patients and populations of patients.
Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are applying precision medicine to three areas of care:
Cancer: In collaboration with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, BWH researchers are developing algorithms, based on genetic data, to determine the best way to care for patients that have cancer.
Pulmonary Medicine: BWH researchers are combining genomic data, metabolomic data (measurement and analysis of metabolites, such as sugars and fats, in the cells of organisms) and the results of pulmonary function tests to identify distinct groups of patients with interstitial fibrosis and cystic lung disease. Researchers hope to develop treatments tailored to individual patient groups.
Infectious Diease: The human microbiome is the population of microorganisms that live on and within the human body. Patients who are hospitalized may develop infections due to disruptions in their microbiome. One of the most common causes of hospital-acquired infections is due to the bacteria Clostridium difficile (C.difficile) which causes severe diarrhea. BWH researchers are using precision medicine to predict which patients may be at risk for developing C.difficile infections, based on the components of their microbiome, and develop ways to prevent C. diff. infections in these patients.