Personalized Medicine

About Us 

At Mission Health, personalized medicine focuses on trying to predict how you will respond to drugs. Personalized Medicine offers a scientific, individually guided approach to improve the health of individuals and our population. It has the potential to replace the trial-and-error approach to drug treatment to manage cancer and other chronic diseases. Building on the advances in genomic medicine, personalized medicine testing provides patients and their healthcare providers with information that could help minimize toxic side effects from drug treatments and maximize drug effectiveness.

Mission Health is one of the few community health systems in the U.S. to develop a Personalized Medicine Program. Currently these programs are mainly found at major medical centers and institutions.

The Mission Personalized Medicine program supports every service line across the hospital system (cardiology, cancer, neurology, psychiatry, pain management, etc.) and throughout the physician practices in our region.

There are two types of testing, depending on if you are a cancer patient or a non-cancer patient.

  • For non-cancer patients, testing analyzes your genetic makeup (your inherited DNA) for variations to predict if you may have a bad response to a drug or if a drug may actually work for you.
  • For cancer patients, testing is performed on your tumor tissue, evaluating the tumor’s genetic makeup to predict whether it will respond to certain cancer drugs (click here to learn more).

For further information about the Personalized Medicine Program and Services please contact our Program Coordinator at 828-213-1044.


Personalized Medicine in Cancer Care

Personalized medicine offers a scientific, individually guided approach to predict a patient’s response to anti-cancer treatment, with the potential to replace the trial-and-error approach to drug treatment to manage cancer and other chronic diseases. 

Mission’s Personalized Cancer Medicine Program utilizes genetic or genomic testing whenever possible to identify specific mutations in a patient’s tumor and target those mutations with specific drugs.

Soon the program will utilize not only the genetic information found in the tumor, but also the genetic information the patient has inherited from his/her parents to further enhance treatment for each patient.

By utilizing both types of genetic information (from the tumor and inherited), cancer patients will have the opportunity to receive cutting-edge care locally, potentially reduce severe side effects from drugs and take drugs at a dose that their body can tolerate.

What is a Personalized Cancer Medicine Program?

A Personalized Medicine Program integrates all relevant information to enhance care for individuals and populations, including family history, lifestyle, demographic, genetic and genomic factors.

Together with studies from clinical research, this information is utilized to individualize care and management of disease, especially for chronic conditions. Mission’s Personalized Cancer Program focuses on enhancing care for the cancer patient.

What are the goals and vision for this program?

Our overall goal is to enhance and optimize the quality, safety and effectiveness of the care of each individual cancer patient using evidence-based practices.

Mission’s Personalized Medicine Program will initially focus on predicting an individual cancer patient’s response to anti-cancer drugs based on the genetic or molecular characteristics of the patient’s tumor.

Whenever possible, we will also utilize genetic characteristics of the individual patient to minimize toxicity and maximize effectiveness of drug therapy.

How does personalized medicine work?

In cancer patients, tests are performed on the patient’s individual tumor to analyze mutations that are associated with tumor growth. We then try to match the tumor mutation(s) to drugs that target those mutations.

By using “targeted therapy” we can utilize the most effective drug to target (and hopefully destroy) the tumor cells that carry the mutation, thereby not destroying normal cells in the process. This should lead to less toxicity and more effective management of the cancer.

Why is this of value to patients and providers?

Using genetic and molecular information to guide treatment decisions provides a more science-based, rather than trial-and-error approach, to treating each individual cancer patient.

Providing these cutting-edge services at Mission gives patients and their families the opportunity to receive this care locally.

Building on the existing expertise at Mission, the Personalized Medicine Program prepares our region for the practice of genomic medicine--utilizing the most important and evidence-based information to help manage our patients with cancer and other chronic diseases. 

For more information about Personalized Medicine for cancer patients, click here.

For further information about the Personalized Medicine Program and Services please contact our Program Coordinator at 828-213-1044.


The Personalized Medicine (PM) Clinic

This clinic was developed to help clinicians and patients better manage medications and help predict future medication therapy responses. Although there are not tests for every drug or all types of conditions, there are many drug responses that we can test for today. 

Our team strives to ensure that each patient has an exceptional experience.   The clinic visit will include the following:

  • Meeting with our multidisciplinary team including a medical geneticist and certified genetic counselor from Mission Fullerton Genetics Center and the Personalized Medicine Program clinical pharmacist who is specialized in the genetics of drug response.
  • Receiving education about the benefits and limitations of genetic testing for drug response.
  • For those patients choosing testing, a follow-up visit will be scheduled to review test results with the patient. No changes to care will be made, only a consultation to review results. All results and an interpretative review by the PM team will be sent to the referring physician.

For further information about the Personalized Medicine Program and Services please contact our Program Coordinator at 828-213-1044.

*PLEASE NOTE: All patients seen in our clinic must have a physician referral. Click here for referral form

About Our Services

The Personalized Medicine Program provides a variety of services to help meet patient’s and clinician’s needs. These include:

Education and Training:

  • In-services, Grand Rounds, education forums and conferences to learn more about personalized medicine testing and application to enhance patient care

Consultation:

  • Identifying cancer and non cancer patients who may benefit from testing.
  • Coordination and interpretation of test results
  • Personalized Medicine Clinic

Clinical Decision Support:

  • Tools and logic for integrating test results into patient medical records

Clinical Research:

  • Conducting clinical research studies to address clinical or process issues related to implementing personalized medicine testing.

Resource for Information:

  • Provision of resources, networking and research into problem areas 

For further information about the Personalized Medicine Program and Services please contact our Program Coordinator at 828-213-1044.

Our team of expert professionals includes a Director of the Personalized Medicine, two clinical pharmacists, a research nurse and a program coordinator.  

For further information about the Personalized Medicine Program and Services please contact our Program Coordinator at 828-213-1044.

 

Research

The Mission Personalized Medicine Program conducts a variety of research studies to better understand how we can enhance patient care through personalized medicine testing.

WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA PILOT STUDY IN PRIMARY CARE:

The Mission Personalized Medicine Program is conducting a pilot study evaluating the feasibility of providing personalized medicine testing in the primary care setting.  Approximately 20 healthcare providers in western North Carolina and 60 eligible patients will be recruited to participate in the study. The study covers the cost of clinical personalized medicine testing.  

Participating healthcare providers will receive training and education from the Mission Personalized Medicine Program team and free CME credit. Providers and patients will participate in two short surveys. Practices will receive compensation to cover the costs of identifying eligible patients for testing (patients 65 years of age or older, with Medicare health insurance and taking at least four prescription medications, one of which is associated with genetic variations).

The goal of the study is to identify barriers to providing personalized medicine testing in the primary care setting.  The results of this study will be used to inform the development of a larger effort to bring clinically useful personalized medicine testing to residents of western North Carolina.

The study is currently recruiting primary care practices.  If interested in learning more about the study, please contact Pearl Abernathy at (828) 213-6837.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is genetics?

  • Genetics is a field of medicine that looks at how genes work and how our genes affect our health. Genetics is one of many factors to help understand our health and well-being.
  • Genes are the biological instructions that tell the body how to grow and function. Genes control traits like hair and eye color. Genes also control the function of organs and tissues in the body and influence how we respond to medications.
  • Every person has inherited small differences in the “spelling” of their genes. These differences are called variants. Most of these differences are harmless and simply make a person unique. In some cases, genetic variants affect the function of the body.
  • For more information on genetic testing for disease risk, please click here.

What are the differences between personalized medicine testing and other more traditional genetic tests about disease risk?

  • Both personalized medicine testing for drug response and traditional genetic testing for disease risk look at your genes and variations that you inherit from your parents and that are passed down from generation to generation.
  • Traditionally, genetic tests have been used to diagnose a disease or to predict if someone is likely to get a disease, such as Huntington’s disease or inherited forms of breast cancer. These tests focus on disease risk.
  • Personalized medicine testing looks at genetic variants that relate to how a drug may work in your body, including the risk that you may have a bad response to a drug or the risk that a drug might not work for you. These tests focus on risks related to drug responses, not diseases.

What are the limitations of personalized medicine testing?

  • Personalized medicine testing may help predict your response to certain drugs. However, there are not tests for every drug or all types of conditions. It is also possible that the results of the testing will not help you and your physician in managing your care.
  • Personalized medicine testing is one of many factors that affect how your body responds to medications. Other important factors include age, weight, health and the other drugs you are taking. Personalized medicine testing is used in combination with your other clinical findings.
  • Because personalized medicine testing is a new and rapidly advancing area of medicine, current tests may not give you all the information to predict how you will respond to a particular drug. The personalized medicine tests we use today to help make decisions about your medications could change or grow in the future as new information is learned.

Should I have personalized medicine testing?

To get the most out of this testing, you and your physician should consider the following:

  • The condition that you have and the drug therapies that are available to treat the condition
  • Your history of drug-related side effects and/or other bad drug reactions
  • The intended uses and limitations of these tests

How will genetic testing for drug response affect my family?

  • Genetic variations related to drug response are inherited. This means that some of the variants you have inherited may be shared by others in your family.
  • It is important to note, however, that your results may not be relevant for your other family members.
  • Personalized medicine testing is really only relevant if your other family members are taking the same drug as you or taking a drug in the same category.
  • To get the best picture of how genetics affects drug response in your family members, testing should be performed for each individual family member.

How are the results of my personalized medicine testing protected?

  • All patient health information (PHI), including genetic test results, is protected through Mission Health's patient privacy policies and practices.
  • In addition, a Federal law, called the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), generally makes it illegal for health insurance companies, group health plans and most employers (those with 15 or more employees) to discriminate against you based on your genetic information.
  • Be aware that GINA does not protect you against genetic discrimination by companies that sell life insurance, disability insurance or long-term care insurance.

For further information about the Personalized Medicine Program and Services please contact our Program Coordinator at 828-213-1044.

Contact Us

For further information about the Personalized Medicine Program and Services please contact our Program Coordinator at 828-213-1044.

Mission Personalized Medicine Program
Mission Health
Fullerton Genetics Center
9 Vanderbilt Park Drive
Asheville, NC 28803