In this issue

Personalized healthcare

Snyderman, Biotechnol. J. 2012, 7, 973–979.

“Personalized Healthcare” utilizes personalized health planning in conjunction with coordinated delivery systems to provide personalized, predictive, preventive and participatory (P4) care. This strategic approach to care is built on the concepts of systems biology and enables personalized medicine. In this issue, Ralph Snyderman (Duke University, Durham, NC, USA) reviews the transformation of medical practice with its current focus on the treatment of disease to an emphasis on enhancing health, preventing disease and personalizing care to meet each individual's specific health needs. He points out that personalized medicine is more than genomic medicine and discusses the tools available. These new concepts are likely to contribute to the reduction of preventable chronic diseases, which are not effectively addressed by our current approach.

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From chaos to consensus

Sung, Biotechnol. J. 2012, 7, 946–957.

“Omics” technologies have made it possible to obtain high-resolution molecular snapshots of organisms, tissues and even individual cells. These data can be used for promising applications, such as disease-specific diagnostics and accurate phenotype classification. Many of these “molecular signatures”, however, suffer from limited reproducibility in independent datasets, insufficient sensitivity or specificity to meet clinical needs. In this issue, Nathan D. Price and colleagues (University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA; Institute for Systems Biology and University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA) review the process of molecular signature discovery on the basis of omics data. They highlight potential pitfalls in the discovery process, as well as strategies for overcoming these issues. Despite the difficulties, the authors provide a basis of how these tools can be used to contribute to personalized medicine.

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Quantifying your body

Smarr, Biotechnol. J. 2012, 7, 980–991.

The digital transformation of healthcare is contributing to Leroy Hood's vision of P4 – predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory – medicine. In this issue, Larry Smarr (University of California, San Diego, CA, USA) shares his decade-long personal experience in quantifying his own body. Smarr employs an excellent metaphor: the car analogy, in which car maintenance has been transformed from the approach in the 60s of only dealing with symptoms once they occur, to the current approach of identifying potential problems before the occurrence of irreversible damage. Larry Smarr has tracked his own blood and stool biomarkers and has put this into context with the genetics of his cellular and gut microbial DNA. This Perspective article exemplifies how one can take a proactive approach to one's own health.

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