RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.—Personalized medicine – the customization of health care to suit individuals based on their genetic types – is rapidly increasing in popularity and availability with the advent of new medical technologies.
To assess the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of such technologies, researchers at RTI International are investigating the impacts of preventive genetic tests as part of two new projects.
The projects are funded by a contract from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a grant from the National Institutes of Health. RTI researchers will develop mathematical models to identify the potential impacts of breast cancer and colorectal cancer screening tests and assess the threshold sensitivity and cost under which these tests are likely to be adopted.
The study will use risk stratification, including genetic predisposition, family history, and other genetic risk factors to identify those who should be screened for breast cancer or colorectal cancer. Thus, the study will use a personalized profile to identify if someone would benefit from screening.
"Personalized medical approaches targeted at preventing diseases can potentially reduce the need for high-cost treatments and improve the overall health of the nation," said Sujha Subramanian, Ph.D., a senior health economist at RTI and the lead investigator for both projects. "Therefore, there is an imminent need to assess the projected impact of personalized medicine on both health outcomes and cost."
As part of the two-year contract, researchers will work with CDC to study the impact of personalized medicine on the cost-effectiveness of screening young women for breast cancer. Current guidelines do not recommend routine screening for women under age 40 and offer conflicting recommendations for women between the ages of 40 and 50.
RTI researchers will compare the costs and benefits of personalized medical technologies to identify the approaches that will be the most cost-effective to screen younger women in order to identify those at increased risk of developing breast cancer and thus reduce the burden of this disease among younger women.
Results from this study can be used to address whether new technologies are likely to be cost-effective for screening young women, the costs and benefits of initiating genomics testing at specific age thresholds, and any negative impacts associated with these technologies. These findings will provide important evidence for developing guidelines and recommendations related to breast cancer screening programs for young women.
For the NIH grant, RTI researches will build a prototype model of colorectal cancer prevention and screening to examine the impact of personalized medicine on the cost-effectiveness of preventative medicine. This grant is part of the National Institutes of Health Common Fund Health Economics program, which granted awards to 21 research proposals for fiscal year 2011.
"The overall goal of this research is to provide a framework that can foster the use of these models to study the impact of personalized medicine on the cost-effectiveness of prevention for a wide range of diseases, including other cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity," Subramanian said.