Molecular biology is driving major change in medical practice and transforming how physicians manage patient health. Traditional approaches to health care are shifting at a furious pace.

Medical care that was once ruled by stethoscopes and x-rays has evolved into a hunting expedition inside the body’s own cells for the underlying mechanisms of disease.

"Early results are appearing in laboratories and medical centres throughout Canada."

Research and advanced technology have brought us to a new era in health care that’s more preventive in nature, with treatment backed by strong scientific data and early diagnosis.

New discoveries

Our modern revolutionary wave in medicine began with the discovery of DNA’s molecular structure and surged forward again with the sequencing of the human genome. Advances in science, specifically related to genomics, are dominating medicine and health care now and will continue onwards into the future.

Medical research facilities in hospitals, universities and innovation centres across the country are dedicating their efforts in molecular medicine to investigate underlying risk factors and causes of many health conditions.

From reactive to predictive

Early results are appearing in laboratories and medical centres throughout Canada. Health care is moving away from a reactive model where patients are admitted to hospitals or visit their physicians with an illness that requires diagnosis then treatment through surgery or drug therapy.

Instead, we are heading towards a medical practice that is more preventive, predictive and tailored to a person’s own molecular biology. This is the essence of personalized medicine.

Creating a new language

We are already witnessing some early indicators of how molecular biology as a base for personalized medicine is reshaping health care and recreating our knowledge of medical science.

An entirely new vocabulary has been spawned to produce a language of molecular medicine related to patient care. Specialties such as immunogenetics and pharmacogenetics enable physicians and researchers to peer into the human body and investigate the root cause of disease.

Newly discovered genomic variations associated with cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, diabetes and other risk factors or cardiovascular disease – a leading killer in North America and around the world – are slowly making their way to patients at the bedside.

Same conditions, new outlooks

We are learning, for instance, how inflammation at the cellular level leads to arteries clogged by plaque, which in turn can rupture causing heart attack and stroke. Heart attack patients are being saved by a bedside genetic test that shows whether they carry a gene that reacts to a popular clot-busting drug during treatment.

Medical science continues to investigate human genomics to uncover the mysteries of childhood neurological disorders, such as autism. Genomics tools are used to identify drug toxicity and adverse drug reactions.

Cancer patients are being classified and treated according to the molecular nature of their tumors. These are but a few examples of personalized medicine.

Looking to the future

We know how environment, behaviour and lifestyle can influence the progression of disease. Now we are proceeding swiftly along a new path of personalized medicine using the tools, technology and knowledge of genomics to learn how to identify and provide treatment.