Editors' ChoiceBioethics

Personalized medicine by another name

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Science  28 Oct 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6311, pp. 430-431
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6311.430-c

A vision of the Human Genome Project was that molecular profiling would enable identification of the molecular underpinnings of disease on an individual basis; “personalized medicine” became a watchword. However, a rebranding has been occurring since roughly 2012 in which the concept has been transmogrified into “precision medicine.” Juengst et al. describe conclusions from interviews and case studies conducted since 2011 with 143 supporters of personalized genomic medicine. The terminology change may minimize unrealistic expectations. However, a shift from “personal” could mean a reversal of the trend toward patient autonomy in decision-making. The need for population-level sequencing to identify groups with particular molecular profiles carries its own risks in terms of pressures to participate and the possibility of stigmatization.

Hastings Cent. Rep. 46, 21 (2016).

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