The Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine are opening an institute dedicated to personalized medicine in which clinicians tailor individualized therapies according to patients’ genomic makeups, particularly for oncology patients, to produce better outcomes.
The institute, scheduled to open in June, will collaborate with other departments and institutes at the Hershey campus, including the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute, to advance research in this field and to translate that research into clinical applications.
James R. Broach, the chair of the department of biochemistry and molecular biology, is the head of the institute. He told MedCity News in a phone interview that in addition to cancer, the center would look at applications for other areas like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. “We all believe the time has come to tailor medical treatment properly based on individuals and we’ve only begun to scratch the surface [of doing that].”
Broach, who also sits on the Science Board to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, noted that personalized medicine could lead to the creation of more targeted clinical trials and lower the cost of drug development. He pointed out that this approach is already being utilized by pharmaceutical companies like Roche for its breast cancer drug, Herceptin, approved by U.S. regulators in 1998.
If drug development and clinical trials were structured based on the genetic characteristics of the patients it would be used to treat, it could result in better outcomes. The potential downside from a pharmaceutical company’s perspective would be a narrower pool of patients for that drug.
On the other hand, the industry may need to recognize that it’s better to have a drug that works on a smaller number of people than none at all.