Personalizing medicine is among the salient themes of modern advance, and clearly among the more widely captivating. President Barack Obama cited this area as a priority for the nation in the context of the cancer moonshot he endorsed in his State of the Union Address in 2016. In the past year, two radical cancer treatment advances have been announced, one for leukemia, one for lymphoma, both involving the genetic re-engineering of a patient’s own cells into customized chemotherapy.
The methods of customization and the means of delivering care have evolved considerably over recent years. Personalization at first relied much on what was called metabolomics, and at times proteomics (or proteinomics), collectively an effort to use assays of metabolites and proteins to create a personalized patient profile. The basic idea was that the identification of such “products” in blood could be traced back to their biochemical assembly lines, thus illuminating any aberrations there. Those, in turn, could (in theory) be targeted with drugs, or more often, nutrient supplements and lifestyle interventions, to restore native balance to the body’s protein factories.