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Personalized Medicine: The Future Of Health Care

What would you do if there was a way to determine - with almost near certainty - what you might die from? Would you want to know? Would you want your doctor to know? Would you want your kids to know?

These are questions those entrenched in studying genome sequencing are facing. It's called personalized medicine, or precision medicine. It compiles about 12,000 different diagnostic tests, and 23,000 human genes - into one individual test.

"Now, we have the ability to look at that all at once, by sequencing all of your DNA instead of just a few genes in a panel," said Martin Schiller, executive director of the Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine.

A field in its infancy, but with the sky as a limit.

For about $2,500, Schiller hopes that by the end of the summer, people can get a full genome sequencing at the institute, which is currently housed at UNLV.

"This is really going to change the way health care is delivered," Schiller said.

But, it's far from a perfect world. Given the newness of the field, there are some concerns. Privacy and actionability are the main ones.

Which is why the institute will require a questionnaire for its subjects to figure out just exactly what they want to know about their genetic makeup.

In addition to genome sequencing, the institute is also tackling another beast: HIV. In the context of personalized medicine, diseases like cancer and HIV are equivalent to genetic wildcards.

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Thanks to new technology the institute is working with, that actually attacks the reproduction of the HIV virus in one's body, a cure could possibly be within sight.

“You know over the next five to 10 years, one of us is gonna get this technology thorugh to the point where we can really start to address not just a functional cure of AIDS, but a real cure.”

Editor's note: This story originally aired June 2015


Martin Schiller, executive director, Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine

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DNA isolated from a small sample of saliva or blood can yield information, fairly inexpensively, about a person's relative risk of developing dozens of diseases or medical conditions.
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