Personalized medicine and the clinical laboratory
Personalized medicine is the use of biomarkers, most of them molecular markers, for detection of specific genetic traits to guide various approaches for preventing and treating different conditions. The identification of several genes related to heredity, oncology and infectious diseases lead to the detection of genetic polymorphisms that are involved not only in different clinical progression of these diseases but also in variations in treatment response. Currently, it is possible to detect these polymorphisms using several methodologies: detection of single nucleotide polymorphisms using polymerase chain reaction methods; nucleic acid microarray detection; and nucleic acid sequencing with automatized DNA sequencers using Sanger-derived methods and new generation sequencing. Personalized medicine assays are directed towards detecting genetic variations that alter interactions of drugs with targets or the metabolic pathways of drugs (upstream and downstream) and can be utilized for the selection of drug formulations and detect different immunogenicities of the drug. Personalized medicine applications have already been described in different areas of Medicine and allow specific treatment approaches to be applied to each patient and pathology according to the results of these assays. The application of such a protocol demands an increasing interaction between the clinical laboratory and the clinical staff. For its implementation, a coordinated team composed of basic researchers and physicians highly specialized in their areas supported by a highly specialized team of clinical analysts particularly trained in molecular biology assays is necessary.