What is Technology-Based Healthcare?

Today, we have the capacity to identify the individual human differently than ever before. Looking back 50 years, scientists first described DNA. Twenty years ago, we learned to do gene expression profiling. In the last ten years, we've uncovered more about micro RNAs. Who could have anticipated any of these discoveries? The tools in individualized medicine have continued to advance rapidly. Now--almost on a weekly basis--we are developing more features of the tools available to us. The way scientists and clinical researchers are achieving individualized medicine is by taking advantage of the genetic differences among people.

The reality is nearly every cell in a body has the same DNA. And DNA sequence is very similar between different individuals. Two persons' DNA sequence are essentially identical, but in about one in every thousand letters of the DNA code, one person will have a different letter. While that may not seem like a big deal, when you're talking about one out of a thousand against a background of six billion DNA strands, that's 60 million spots that differ. That can make a big difference in terms of health, response to treatment, and susceptibility to different diseases.

Individualized medicine embraces technology for research but also for data gathering for clinical purposes, literally across the entire spectrum of medicine. Individualized medicine is defined as the medicine of human and disease variation and individualized medical need.

The big challenge now is how do we take this complex information and use it? It requires experts in computer science. We have to have bioinformatics and experts in functional genomics, experts in statistical genetics and interdisciplinary research teams. We must build this grid of capabilities, this community of expertise so that we can marry that expertise with clinical practice to complete the picture.

→ Mayo Center for Individualized Medicine