Transforming the Health Care Industry Through P4 Medicine

November 19, 2014

Perhaps you've heard of personalized or precision medicine, but what about P4 medicine?

The field of medicine is undergoing monumental change.

Perhaps you’ve heard of personalized or precision medicine, but what about P4 medicine?

The name was coined by genomics pioneer and

president and co-founder of the Institute for Systems Biology,

Leroy E. Hood, MD, PhD, but t

he terms are not new.

Technological advancements and the understanding of systems medicine are bringing this holistic approach one step closer to reality.

So, what exactly is P4 medicine? Today, the health care system focuses on treating disease. Through the merging of systems medicine, the digital revolution, and consumer-driven health care,

P4 medicine

will shift the emphasis to care that is predictive, preventive, personalized, and participatory.

The idea is the management of health, rather than disease.

Predictive and Preventive

Systems medicine contributes to P4 medicine by providing the ability to understand disease at a molecular level.

Eventually, we will be able to predict

when an organ will become diseased and when a perturbation in a biological network could progress to disease, providing opportunity for earlier treatment and preservation of patient wellness.

Personalized

Genome sequencing is becoming more accessible as costs are steadily decreasing. It is estimated that it will soon cost only a few hundred dollars to sequence a genome, possibly in under an hour. Creating personalized “data clouds” and discovery of actionable gene variants will exponentially increase. Actionable gene variants are genes that can be acted upon medically, or corrected to improve wellness or avoid disease.

Treatments will be individualized.

More than 50 genes important for drug metabolism have been identified. Additionally, for certain cancers, genomic testing has become an acceptable method to match genetic abnormalities to specific drug therapies.

Participatory

The patient-activated social network will be the driving force towards the acceptance of the P4 medicine revolution. The push for change will be patient-driven.

P4 medicine will provide us with the abilities to:

  • Detect disease early, at a time when the disease is more likely to respond to treatment and less expensive to treat.
  • Stratify diseases to distinct subtypes in order to target therapy to the specific disease type and achieve better outcomes.
  • Assess an individual’s drug response early on, thereby reduce adverse drug reactions.
  • Facilitate less expensive and new approaches to drug target discovery.
  • Facilitate new forms of active participation by patients and consumers in the collection of personal health data that will accelerate discovery science.

Both the patient and health care professional will have greater access to information, quantitatively speaking

and in terms of accuracy.

P4 medicine may still be in its infancy, but it’s on the brink of something momentous that could change the course of medicine, improve patient outcomes, and empower both the patient and health care professional. The key objective of this future medicine is to optimize wellness while minimizing and demystifying disease.