Looking at a graph of human life expectancy over the past four millennia, you get how far medicine has come from diagnosing witchcraft and prescribing bloodletting. But it’s still so inexact that for every year we live, we gain about two months of life. That’s how fast research is improving health care, says Martin Schiller, adding: “It’s maybe the best buy in history for return on investment.”
Schiller is executive director of UNLV’s new Nevada Institute of Personalized Medicine, which introduced itself on January 30. Some very bright minds were looking toward a future where every patient’s unique genetic makeup will be mapped and used as a “blueprint for effective treatment and disease prevention.”
It’s not as far off as you might think. The New York Times recently reported that while scientists differ, “estimates range from a few years to a decade or so” before whole genome sequencing is widely accessible and covered by insurance. The model asserts that if a patient’s unique biology uniquely drives his condition, then it should determine how that condition is addressed, down to the exact dosage of a drug tailored to his body so side effects are minimized and curative benefits are maximized.
NIPM (which is awaiting formal approval by the Nevada System of Higher Education’s Board of Regents) aims to contribute to the universal cause of making health care better and cheaper, and to spark related invention, technology commercialization and job creation in Nevada.
Steve Hill, head of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, says the state’s Knowledge Fund is supporting NIPM because its work will be important for decades to come. “Health care is one of the best development opportunities, as well as one of the greatest areas of need.”