What Is the Role of Personalized Medicine in the Treatment of Geriatric Patients?
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Personalized Medicine - Roles, Benefits, and Drawbacks

Published on May 22, 2023 and last reviewed on Jun 23, 2023   -  4 min read


A new approach to treating medical conditions, customized to individuals based on genetic factors, improves disease detection and prevents complications.


The concept of personalized medicine has been a part of healthcare for many years, but its role has been limited in day-to-day life. This approach is recently accepted to improve the quality of treatment and its benefits tailored to the needs of individual patients. Advancements in medical technology have led to the development of a wide range of treatment options in fine molecular detail and along with a deeper understanding of the disease mechanisms. The basis of personalized medicine is to provide health services according to the genetic makeup of the individual.

What Is Personalized Medicine?

Personalized medicine is a relatively new approach to the treatment and prevention of diseases, taking into account the variability in genes, lifestyle, and the environment of the individual. It is also called precision medicine. It is a developing field in which healthcare professionals use diagnostic tests to recognize the specific genetic and biological markers that help determine the treatment modalities or procedures for each patient. It is being developed due to the recent advances in scientific technologies, which have increased the potential of drug delivery.

How Does Personalized Medicine Work?

Personalized medicine combines the results of genetic markers with information from medical records, circumstances, and disease characteristics, allowing healthcare providers to develop targeted treatment and preventive measures. It provides more accuracy in predicting treatment strategies and allows doctors and researchers to customize the therapy for a particular disease.

Pharmacogenomics (study of genes that affect a person’s response to drugs) combines with pharmacology (study of drugs) and genomics (study of genes) to customize and develop effective and safe medications for the individual.

What Is the Role of Personalized Medicine in Geriatric Patients?

The concept of traditional medicine that is being followed is one size fits all approach, wherein the results of clinical trials are generalized to the entire population. This can have some inherent disadvantages, especially in elderly people, whose representation in clinical trials is relatively less compared to young adults. The goal of personalized medicine in geriatrics is to maintain good cognitive health to the full lifespan of the individual.

The risk factors associated with aging, such as cardiovascular disorders, chronic stress, metabolic disorders, and decreased efficiency of the immune system, can cause alterations in the functioning of the body, especially the brain, due to compromised blood flow which may affect the synaptic functions, exacerbating the process of aging. A better understanding of the risk factors will help healthcare professionals to choose the correct interventions which may be effective in preventing them.

  • Cardiovascular insufficiency is related to various comorbidities associated with aging, such as hypertension, cardiac failure, obesity, elevated cholesterol levels, coronary artery disease, and lifestyle factors like smoking, diet, and sedentary lifestyle. Gene variants can contribute to the development of risk factors; hence understanding the same is essential in the concept of personalized therapy. Using the approach of personalized medicine, doctors can categorize every individual based on their risk profile and identify the targets to prevent the damages caused due to biological aging.

  • Glucose homeostasis may be affected in elderly individuals with diabetes or prediabetes conditions due to elevated levels of HbA1c (amount of blood sugar attached to hemoglobin), which are impacted by genetic factors. As it has been estimated that a large population to be having prediabetes, this is a clear area of concern that may cause diseases of blood vessels, atrophy of the brain, and connectivity problems among older adults. Personalized medicine can be beneficial in treating such alterations compared to traditional medicine and also prevent disease aggravation.

  • Chronic stress, dementia, physical changes such as impaired vision and taste, loss of hearing, and decreased balance and strength may vary among individuals in severity or may be associated with underlying comorbidities; personalized medicine can benefit geriatric patients in this regard and prevent further complications.

What Are the Benefits of Personalized Medicine in Geriatric Patients?

Potential benefits of personalized medicine in geriatric patients include:

  • It provides a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms of various diseases.

  • The doctors get a wider ability by using genetic and molecular information of the patients, which may help in routine medical care.

  • Personalized medicine improves the ability to predict better treatment options and prescribe more effective drugs that suit the specific patient, which in turn helps to achieve the goals as the treatment would be precise.

  • The patient data can be integrated into electronic health records, which allows easy access for doctors and researchers.

  • The approach to diagnosing, treating, and preventing a wide range of diseases can be improved by personalized medicine.

  • Personalized medicine helps prevent drug reactions or side effects, reducing the cost, time, resources, and failure rates of clinical trials.

  • It helps in understanding diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, etc., at the genetic or molecular level.

  • Personalized medicine eliminates the limit of traditional medicine and improves disease detection, and prevents progression.

  • An individual’s non-compliance to medications or treatment methods may exacerbate the condition or cause adverse effects. Personalized medicine helps patients to adhere to the treatment, which is especially beneficial for geriatric patients suffering from diabetes, asthma, etc.

What Are the Drawbacks of Personalized Medicine in Geriatric Patients?

Some of the limitations or drawbacks of personalized medicine include the following:

  • Massive infrastructure investment may be required to implement personalized medicine, as it requires access and availability of genetic testing, collecting, and storing patient information.

  • Legal or ethical issues may arise as large amounts of data must be collected and stored, which can affect the privacy of the patients.

  • The primary workforce team needs to be educated and trained, which may be challenging as it is considered quite complex.

  • The fear of genetic discrimination or misinterpretation of data.


The traditional practice of medicine has been followed for many years; however, it misses its mark because each individual’s genetic makeup varies, and the response to the treatments or medications may be different, affecting overall health. Personalized medicine would be beneficial, especially in geriatric patients, as it helps recognize the specific genetic or biological markers responsible for the conditions, aids in determining the treatment modalities, and prevents complications.

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Last reviewed at:
23 Jun 2023  -  4 min read




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