Within the next 10 years, precision medicine — treatment based on an individual’s genetics, lifestyle and environment — could help health-care providers better treat all diseases.
And precision medicine’s impact on arthritis and similar immune-system disorders will be the topic of focus at the University of Arizona Arthritis Center’s 17th Annual Living Healthy with Arthritis Conference on Saturday, Feb. 16.
Arthritis — the swelling, pain and stiffness of the joints — robs people of their quality of life and affects everyone differently, said Dr. Kenneth Ramos, an internationally recognized expert on genetics and genomic medicine. He will deliver the conference keynote address, “The Power of Precision Medicine.”
Ramos is also the associate vice president for precision health sciences for UA Health Sciences.
The conference, which is open to the public, runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson’s DuVal Auditorium. (See box)
Registration closes Feb. 11, or until capacity is reached.
Tailored for you
Precision medicine combines information on a person’s genetics, environment and lifestyle to give health-care providers a complete picture of a person’s risk factors for disease. It also allows for tailored treatment rather than using the traditional one-size-fits-all approach.
For example, medical providers’ ability to adjust treatment for a disease such as breast cancer originated from precision medicine methods, Ramos said.
Today, the first thing an oncologist or primary-care provider does when a patient is suspected of having breast cancer, colon cancer or melanoma, for example, is a molecular genetic test, Ramos said.
“We understand the genetic contributors and lifestyle and environmental forces on these diseases and make better use of that data,” he said. “That’s what needs to happen with arthritis to improve the standard of care.”
The time is ripe
The main drivers behind the maturation of precision medicine are discoveries in genetics, medicine and information technology.
But it is also fueled by a more-knowledgeable patient population that expects individualization of care and better outcomes, Ramos said.
Patients are now very aware of the role of genetics in disease. Many have already taken genetic tests through their doctors or commercial tests such as 23andMe.
Lastly, Ramos said, health-care professionals recognize there’s a disparity between the cost of health care in this country and outcomes. Precision medicine allows doctors to increase efficiency in care.
Other topics covered at the conference include the All of Us Research Program, gout, the impact of maintaining a healthy weight, medication and genetics, genetic testing, happiness and more.