Personalised medicine

Personalised medicine

Dr Jeanne Tie
Personalised medicine customises healthcare to an individual.
Our researchers are discovering new strategies that use genomic and proteomic information to match a person with the best treatment for their individual disease.

Our personalised medicine research

Our personalised medicine researchers aim to identify the most appropriate treatments for individual patients by studying complex biological systems. Aspects of their research include:

  • Genomics, to link changes in DNA sequences with responses to treatment.
  • Proteomics, to determine treatment responsiveness influences changes in proteins
  • Systems biology, that incorporates many types of information about samples to understand how they may respond to disease.
  • Bioinformatics, to develop powerful methods to analysis complex data.

The Ian Potter Centre for Genomics and Personalised Medicine is a partnership between the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute. The centre is Australia’s first research centre devoted to matching disease treatments to a person’s genetic makeup.

What is personalised medicine?

Every human is unique, and we often differ in how we develop diseases and respond to treatments.

Personalised medicine aims to tailor treatments to achieve the best outcome for individual patients, rather than treating patients with a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

How can medicine be personalised?

Personalised medicine is already a part of our healthcare. When a doctor uses family history or past medical events and results to make treatment decisions, it is a type of personalised medicine.

The future of personalised medicine will increasingly involve genomics, the study of information from a patient’s entire genetic sequence. DNA sequencing is becoming faster and more sophisticated. This makes it easier to determine the best treatment based on genetics of the disease and the individual.

Improving cancer outcomes

Some of the most advanced examples of personalised medicine have been made in improving the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Cancer develops when cells accumulate DNA changes (‘genetic mutations’) that make them grow in an uncontrolled manner. As cancers progress they undergo further genetic changes that enhance their spread (metastasis) or make them resistant to anti-cancer treatments.

Personalised medicine, including genetic sequencing of cancer samples, helps clinicians to match a patient with the appropriate treatment.

New medications called targeted therapies are designed to counteract cancer-causing molecules. For example, patients with breast cancers that have abnormally high amounts of a protein called HER2 can be successfully treated with a medication that blocks HER2.

It is hoped that developments made in personalising cancer treatment could also be translated to other complex conditions.

Researchers: 

Associate Professor Oliver Sieber

Oliver Sieber
Associate Professor
Oliver
Sieber
Acting Division Head

Dr Ben Tran

Ben Tran
Dr
Ben
Tran
Clinical Research Fellow
Professor Liam O'Connor talks to the audience during a presentation.

DNA is the key to personalised medicine, and will revolutionise how we treat, diagnose and prevent many diseases, including many types of cancer.