Molecular diagnostics technologies and systems medicine for individualized treatment

The advancement of genomic and other “omics” technologies has made significant contribution to the development of molecular medicine, including the understanding of cell structure and function, as well as epigenetic variability and functional changes. Such understanding would be useful for improving diagnosis, prevention, and disease treatment. On the basis of systems biology analysis, systems medicine can be developed for more integrative and holistic health care, and move from the reactive to the proactive practice.

For example, the elucidation of the alterations in cellular processes in traumatic or degenerative musculoskeletal conditions would enable better tools and approaches for the diagnosis and therapies of musculoskeletal diseases (Mashayekhi et al., 2013). The comparison of the crosstalk among cellular pathways between normal and disease conditions would allow personalized treatment targeting specific cells.

With such understanding, the conventional “one-size-fits-all” medicine would be replaced by personalized medicine that would lead to better clinical outcomes and reduced health care costs, especially for cancer therapy. Biomarkers would play a critical role in personalized medicine. Various biomarkers need to be identified and validated, including those from serum, tissues, or imaging. On the basis of such biomarkers for prediction, prognosis, and early responses, personalized oncology would have a significant impact on cancer prevention and treatment (Kalia, 2013).

For example, imaging biomarkers using techniques including Computed Tomography (CT) and Positron Emitted Tomography (PET) would allow the early detection and treatment among cancer patients (Kalia, 2013). Further development in molecular imaging would also contribute to integrated diagnostics and theranostics. Molecular diagnostics technologies such as gene expression and proteomic tests would allow personalized and targeted chemotherapies for those cancer patients who may have more positive responses. The application of companion molecular diagnostics may also enable more efficient treatment with reduced costs.


Kalia M. Personalized oncology: recent advances and future challenges. Metabolism. 2013 Jan;62 Suppl 1:S11-4. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2012.08.016.

Mashayekhi K, O’Brien M, Zugun-Eloae F, Labusca L. Novel approaches for treating musculoskeletal diseases: molecular orthopedics and systems medicine. Open Orthop J. 2013 May 3;7:144-51. doi: 10.2174/1874325001307010144.

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