Vol 5 No 1 (2021)
Essays

Rethinking health and disease in the era of personalized medicine

Alessandro Rosa
University of Bologna
Published October 20, 2021
Keywords
  • personalized medicine,
  • health,
  • disease,
  • genomics

Abstract

Genome-based medicine, usually referred to as personalized medicine, aims to provide tailored treatments for a single patient according to his/her genome. Thanks to correlations between genotype and phenotype, it is also able to assess the chances of developing a disease given to the presence of a specific genetic mutation. Within the aforementioned paradigm, the first challenge to address is to properly define what is usually meant by the expression ‘personalized medicine’, specifying the methodologies it uses and the premises it is based on. Then it appears fundamental to discuss whether and how such vision entails any change for our theoretical concepts of health and disease. I will argue that this is the case and, in particular, that being able to predict the probability of diseases’ occurrence can significantly affect our philosophical concepts of disease, illness, and sickness in different ways.