Steve Levine, MD: How Close Are We to Personalized Medicine?


Steve Levine, MD, discussed the exciting future of personalized medicine and what sort of methods are currently at our disposal to personalize treatment for specific patients.

Steve Levine, MD, the founder and CEO of Actify Neurotherapies, sat down with MD Magazine to discuss a myriad of topics related to major depressive disorder. One of those topics included a broader subject: Personalized medicine.

While personalized medicine is not yet widely implemented, it is a goal of the medical community that sits just ahead of where we currently reside. As a result, there have been a number of advancements and tactics that the medical community has adopted to inch us ever closer to that goal. Levine discussed some of those tactics and tools, and about how close we are to beginning to treat individuals specifically.

Steve Levine, MD, founder and CEO of Actify Neurotherapies: We're on the cusp of really being able to individualize medicine, sometimes called personalized medicine. We're not quite there yet, you know, to be as precise as we would hope to be, though. Right now, things that are at our disposal are things like genetic testing, which can tell us if people are predisposed to one variant of a condition versus another, or that they might metabolize medicines differently in one person versus another and therefore might be less likely to have side effects with a given medicine.

What we'll get closer to as we move along are more precise tests that really show us that this is the treatment for you, and that will come from better identifying biomarkers. That will come from more precise genetic testing information that really more closely matches the genotype - the actual genetic material, the genetic code - to the phenotype, which is the way that the disease expresses.

Right now there's not always a complete match between the two, and so for the moment we're not quite there yet as far as personalized medicine or customizing treatment for people. At this point, we really rely upon conducting a thorough history, hearing about elements of family history that might guide us towards a better fit of treatment, hearing about past responses to other treatments, and you know picking up on "this person seemed to have a better response to this class of medicine versus that" and "they had extreme intolerable side effects with this class of medicine." We're looking at things like you know, again what may be a familiar familial pattern of response to a treatment, but we're not quite as precise as we'd like to be yet.

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