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More elaborate, precise, personalised medicine of the future

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03 January 2013


Professor Lifshits compares genotyping with first information about thyroid hormones, when not every doctor knew how to interpret it; now the thyroid hormone check procedure is routine. Picture: The Siberian Times

The research is seen as revolutionising the effectiveness of drugs by maximising their potential based on the individual needs of the man or woman being treated. Better prescribing based on pharmaceutical-genetic considerations can both improve curing - and reduce the risk of harm from inappropriate dosages. 

The pioneering research is being led in Novosibirsk by Dr Galina Lifshits, Head of the Laboratory of Personalised Medicine in the Institute of Chemical Biology and Fundamental Medicine, part of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences.

Dr Lifshits insists that successful or failed treatment - and often the patient's life - depends on correctly varying the dosage of medicines. How quickly a drug absorbs, disintegrates and leaves the body may vary significantly from one person to another. It becomes dangerous to prescribe a drug by following a 'bog standard' one-size-fits-all instruction, without knowledge of its concentration in a patient's blood, and an understanding of how the patient's genes work in relation to it. 

Professor Lifshits' laboratory studies the individual influence of drugs created to treat heart conditions and diabetes. She believes that medical care should become more personalised and that the results of the scientific work can and must be applied to practical medical care, helping to decrease the death rate. 

'Our research does not contradict the traditional understanding of how this or that drug should be prescribed. We are talking the same standard medicine and drugs - but its obvious that for each person they have got to be given following an individually-designed scheme'. 

'It is a great pity to see that some doctors who graduated 10-to-15 years ago are still not aware of it. 

Dr Lifshits stressed that 'genotyping is quite new for Russia' - but this is something she aims to improve. 

'In America they understand the importance of being on the front line of fundamental research. They even have a term for it - translational medicine - as well as instititions that are in charge of helping to convert scientific discoveries into health care improvement'.

Genotyping Siberia

'We have got so many interesting developments at every Institute of our Siberian Branch of Academy of Medical Sciences. They have to reach people, the patients'. Picture: 

Crucial is a pharmacological-genetic blood test which helps to identify each patient's reaction to a drug. 

Experts analyse how fast the patient's metabolism is by checking out the work of three genes and adjust the prescription of the medicine, while chemists from the same institute work on the blood sample to see how high is the drug's concentration, and how it disintegrates.

Then the patient's genotype is figured out and is compared to the results of blood test. 

At this point it is possible to confirm the exact dosage of the drug the patient should be taking. 

Professor Lifshits compares genotyping with first information about thyroid hormones, when not every doctor knew how to interpret it. Now the thyroid hormone check procedure is routine. 

Dr Lifshits is confident that personalised and translational medicine is where our future lies, and that the advanced technologies she and her laboratory  currently study will be available to any practitioner within ten years. 

'We have got so many interesting developments at every Institute of our Siberian Branch of Academy of Medical Sciences. They have to reach people, the patients, otherwise it is pointless. Practitioners keep using the old schemes, and people continue dying - all that against the background of the gigantic mass of the fundamental knowledge we have accumulated.

'This is why we have developed a unique laboratory in Novosibirsk, at our institute, to go deep into personalised and translational medicine. And this is why we are carrying out seminars for practitioners where they can learn how to perform and interpret the genotyping so that their patients get the exact amount of the right kind of drug that work specifically for them'.

Galina Lifshits is an author of 170 academic works, including two monographies. She is also the author of seven textbooks. 

Dr Lifshits is involved with the European Association for Predictive, Preventive & Personalised Medicine. 

In 2011, she won the state award of the Novosibirsk area of 2011 for the successful introduction of scientific achievements in practical public health services in the Novosibirsk region. Her scientific interests are connected with the introduction of molecular-genetic fundamental workings out in the personalized clinical medicine in the field of cardiology, a diabetes, adiposity, vascular diseases, an osteoporosis, and thyroid gland diseases.

She graduated from Novosibirsk State Medical Institute, Department of Internal Medicine, in 1987.

Comments (4)

interesting... i do wonder though how soon might it reach the practitioners
Malta star, M
03/01/2013 23:40
about time!
David, Switzerland
03/01/2013 21:39
To the layman, this idea is obvious. It's great to know eminent scientists have realised that giving the same medicines to everyone is madness.
Arthur Davison, Oxford
05/01/2013 00:30
well said Galina!
Mark , Canada
06/01/2013 09:55

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