Man in hospital bed hugging woman

Put simply, Precision Medicine means care as unique as you are. We all have different histories, characteristics and lifestyles. So when you get sick, it makes sense to have a treatment plan designed just for you.

At Penn Medicine, this means going deep. It means looking at DNA for help in making an accurate diagnosis. It means using data to design personalized treatments. And it means learning how we can help keep you healthy in the future.

Finding disease faster

Precision Medicine helps us detect disease faster. Our goal is to get the diagnosis right — the first time — so that you can get the care you need before your condition becomes more difficult to treat.

A great example of this is liquid biopsy. It's a simple blood test that can detect tumors more effectively than surgery. Liquid biopsies collect genetic information that helps oncologists quickly identify cancers and develop personalized treatments.

Kim's Story: The Miracle of Liquid Biopsy

Kim Belcastro, lung cancer and liquid biopsy patient

"If my friend hadn't told me about Penn Medicine, I'm sure I wouldn't be here today."

Tailoring treatment plans

Treatment plans aren't one size fits all. People respond to different approaches in different ways. Sometimes the newest treatment isn't the best. Sometimes it isn't about which treatment, but how much. And sometimes an illness doesn't even respond to treatment at all. That's when we need to look to the patient for clues.

Dr. David Fajgenbaum had devoted what he believed would be the last years of his life to researching the disease that was killing him. Castleman disease (CD) is a rare condition that causes the immune system to attack major organs. But after three years of research and data analysis, Dr. Fajgenbaum discovered a way to target a specific component of his immune system — using a common drug — and has been free of disease for the last four years.

Now, with the support of the Penn Center for Precision Medicine, Dr. Fajgenbaum is bringing this breakthrough treatment to other CD patients. 

Looking to the future

Studying our individual makeup can also offer clues about which diseases we may be more susceptible to and the steps we can take to prevent them.

The Basser Center for BRCA at Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center is the first comprehensive center for the research, treatment and prevention of BRCA-related cancers. This collaboration of scientists, geneticists, physicians and genetic counselors is dedicated to advancing care for people affected by BRCA gene mutations. 

It all started with the Philadelphia chromosome

What makes us Precision Medicine experts? This is where it was born.

In 1959, Penn researcher Peter C. Nowell helped uncover the first genetic mutation linked to cancer: the Philadelphia chromosome. This discovery paved the way for the creation of targeted therapies: treatments that identify and attack dangerous cells without harming healthy cells.

Today, the Penn Center for Personalized Diagnostics (CPD) creates individualized treatments by examining genetic mutations specific to each patient's cancer. These tailor-made care plans reduce treatment time, side effects and cost.

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