While science and technology are rapidly creating possibilities for targeted prevention and treatment, healthcare is also changing by an increasing participation of patients. Scientists of Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam (the Netherlands) explain how they apply the new approach in their work.

Cancer

The field of oncology has a frontrunner position in personalizing medicine. Technological advances have paved the way for a precision treatment tailored to both patient and tumour. Professor Roland Kanaar is convinced that DNA is the key to targeted anti-cancer therapies. “We want to use our knowledge to prevent people from going into treatments they won’t respond to”, he says.

Obesity

Erasmus MC’s Center for Healthy Weight also applies a personalised approach. Founders of the Center Dr Liesbeth van Rossum and Dr Erica van den Akker explain: “Obesity is a complex condition, which means that standard treatment is only effective for a small group of patients. Each patient is different and this calls for tailored treatment.”

Women’s health

Diseases manifest in different ways in men and women. Research in this area will lead to better targeted treatment strategies than a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This is particularly clear in the field of cardiovascular medicine, where misdiagnosis frequently occurs because people are unaware of gender differences. “This can result in a delayed treatment”, explains women’s health expert Dr Maryam Kavousi.

Value-based care

In modern medicine, patients have a voice in the complete ‘customer journey’ from making an appointment to co-decision making about treatment options. The clinical question ‘What is the matter?’ is being rephrased as ‘What matters to you?’. Dr Jan Hazelzet: “We want our patients’ wellness to be our first priority. This starts with the values that we should promote. That is professional behaviour.”

Conference

Erasmus MC is the initiator of the 2nd Transatlantic Conference on Personalized Medicine, to be held in Rotterdam on 8 and 9 October 2015. The conference connects science, society, healthcare, industry and policy to bring personalised medicine solutions into clinical practice. HorizonHealth.eu is a media partner of the conference.

Related projects and further reading

Read more about the research of Professor Roland Kanaar in the In Focus article ‘Exploiting the tumour’s weakness’.

Our In Focus article ‘A woman’s heart’ is about cardiovascular medicine in women.

Read more about patient empowerment in the In Focus articles ‘Power to the patient’ and ‘Why I became a patient advocate’.

Read more about European personalised medicine studies on HorizonHealth.eu.