In April 2010, an important number of the world’s top experts in pediatric pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine came together at a unique conference to change the way childhood diseases are treated.

The conference was hosted by the Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, and its goal was to apply genomic tools to medical problems so as to tailor treatments to the unique requirements of children patients in order to improve results.

The conference’s organizer, Stephen Spielberg, MD, PhD, Director of the Children’s Mercy Center for Personalized Medicine and Therapeutic Innovation; Marion Merrell Dow Chair in Pediatric Pharmacogenomics; and Professor of Pediatrics, University of Missouri- Kansas City School of Medicine, stated that personalized medicine utilizes the latest developments in genomics and molecular data so that they can give the correct medication to the correct patient, in the correct dosage, and at the correct time.

He added that right now, a lot of medications work just for about 50% of the patients who take them, thus, personalized medicine shows high potential to transform the way in which they treat diseases.

During the conference, different experts from academia, government, and the private sector in the US, Canada, and Japan shared their knowledge of clinical applications, bioethics, and the development of pediatric personalized medicine programs.

Some of the clinical applications that were discussed were from the research programs being run at the Children’s Mercy, which tackle significant patient challenges like:

-Applying genomic strategies to improve the safety and efficiency of medications employed to treat cancer in children.

-Improving the effectiveness and benefit/risk percentage of a common therapeutic agent in treating Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, where inter-patient inconsistency causes 40% of the patients to fail to see results.

-Revealing genetic and developmental factors that contribute to the risk of serious adverse drug reactions in children.

-Identifying a non-invasive marker for inflammation concerning asthma, allowing doctors to predict correctly if the patients will respond to steroid treatment, and if not, guide them in the direction of better therapies.

-Utilizing genetic biomarkers to forecast which newborns are in danger of developing hyperbilirubinemia, which is the most common reason why newborns are hospitalized; up to 85% of readmissions during the first two weeks of life are due to this condition.

The occasion also prompted exchanges that help address crucial concerns created by personalized medicine, for example:

-Genetic discrimination
-Cost-benefit analysis
-Universal standards for managing genomic information in electronic medical records
-Strategies to educate practitioners and patients

Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics is a national leader in pediatric personalized medicine, and they are about to launch two new programs to increase medication safety:

-The outpatient Personalized Medicine and Therapeutic Innovation Clinic

-An inpatient adverse drug reaction program

Both programs will deliver first-class drug therapies, encouraging the use of discoveries to impact treatment decisions.  The clinics will be open to referrals of patients that show diagnostic and therapeutic challenges and are not responding to a therapy in progress or have had a sudden, unfavorable reaction to a certain medication.

The personalized medicine clinic will offer better therapies for children by using various approaches, which include genomic technologies and the cooperation between clinical pharmacologists and pediatric subspecialists.

Contact your life sciences consulting firm for more information about the future of personalized medicine.