Many in the scientific community say that it is only a matter of time before personalized medicine becomes ubiquitous. There are several challenges to overcome before that happens, however, not the least of which is educating physicians and patients about personalized medicine, the tests that are available, what those tests mean, and how genomic information might fit into a regular healthcare routine.
Ohio State University's Kevin Sweet and Western Carolina University's Ron Michaelis published The Busy Physician's Guide to Genetics, Genomics, and Personalized Medicine last September, a book Genome Technology said had stayed true to the authors' stated intent to provide physicians with a starting point to learn about genomics and personalized medicine.
Sweet and Michaelis have since teamed up to publish a follow-up guide, this time aimed at patients, called Your Genes, Your Health & Personalised Medicine. "One of the goals of this book is to help you understand the way in which our family history, our genes, our proteins ... and things we encounter from our diet, environment and lifestyle interact to influence your risk for diseases or response to a drug," the authors write.
Just as they did with their first book, the authors more than accomplish their goal. They start with the basics, taking the reader through a quick lesson on what personalized medicine is and how advances in genome sequencing have helped to accelerate its introduction into the clinic. They then go through how genes influence disease risk, the impact of environmental factors, and the role family history plays in a person's health. From there, the authors discuss genetic tests, but provide more than just a simple overview of what's available — they also dig into how a patient should decide whether to have a test done and the wider implications such testing can have. They even discuss nutrigenomics, epigenetics, and the influences of diet and lifestyle — combined with genetics — can have on a person's health.
The book is extremely comprehensive, yet compact. Much in the manner of their first book, Sweet and Michaelis strike the right tone — informative, but not overwhelming; simple, but not dumbed down. Your Genes, Your Health is careful to keep the information it provides in the right context, without over-hyping the possibilities personalized medicine presents.
The first book was meant to be read by physicians, but this one could also be appropriate for that same audience. Physicians and genetic counselors may even benefit from reading this book with their patients, it could provide them with a starting point for a conversation about personalized medicine.