The right dose the first time. The best, most effective drug for your specific treatment. The least risk for toxicity and adverse effects.  This is central to the field of pharmacogenomics—identifying how our unique genetic makeup influences our response to medications.

A drug that works well for one person, may not work for another. Pharmacogenomics lets our physician experts tailor treatments based on your genes, not just your age, lifestyle and overall health. This approach takes the trial and error out of prescribing medications, and lets us get it right the first time.

At NorthShore, we are already putting pharmacogenomics applications into clinical practice. Some examples of how we’re doing so today, include:

Cancer | Cardiovascular Care | Infectious Disease

Cancer

Using molecular techniques – including some developed at NorthShore – we are able to identify specific gene alterations in cancer cells. Armed with this knowledge, we can develop treatments and drug therapies that target the exact gene mutation.

As we are able to look at gene mutations as they relate to the most effective cancer drug therapies, we are learning that medications used to treat one form of cancer, such as colorectal cancer, may be just as effective in treating other forms of cancer for some patients. We expect that in the years to come, the drug used to treat an individual patient’s cancer will depend more on their genes and less on the cancer type.

  • Lung cancer – We now know that there may be as many as 15-20 molecular differences in lung cancer. This means that treatment needs to be personalized, not only based on the specific molecular difference of the lung cancer, but also to the patient. Our team can identify the exact gene mutation in a patient’s lung cancer and customize a drug therapy plan accordingly. This is groundbreaking, considering that lung cancer is the leading cause of death in all cancers.
  • Melanoma, thyroid and colon cancers –Similar to our approach with lung cancer, we can identify unique gene mutations for these cancers and tailor medication appropriately. In the future, we will be able to do this for all types of cancers.

Cardiovascular Care

  • Heart attack, stroke and blood clots—Our team can identify which blood thinner, including Plavix, Coumadin and Warfarin will prove most effective in preventing heart conditions based on an individual’s unique DNA.

Infectious Disease

  • Flu/Influenza – Tamiflu—the drug commonly used to treat flu—only works for half of the patients it is prescribed to.  By analyzing the genetic components of each individual's infection, our team can determine if this is or isn’t the best treatment option for patients. When it isn’t the right choice, we can prescribe the right one for optimal results.
  • Pertussis/Whooping cough—Through a simple nose swab to identify the exact molecular makeup of this infection, we can determine which drugs will work best. Some infection types are resistance to certain antibiotics, and this level of genetic testing lets us tailor treatment options.
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