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Welcome Message from the Organizing Chairman
Personalised haematology: Now and The Future
Personalised medicine was first mentioned in 1999 by Robert Langreth and Michael Waldholz in their article entitled “New Era of Personalised Medicine-Targeting Drugs for Each Unique Genetic Profile”. It described the hope of developing specific drugs targeting individual patient and tumour’s genetic profile.
This is different from conventional medicine, which focuses on evidence-based practice and regards randomised controlled trials as the highest evidence to solve a clinical problem. However, applying statistically significant outcomes of an investigation that involves a heterogeneous population to an individual does not always guarantee the best outcome possible. As we know, the efficacy and side effects of a treatment differs with each genetic variation. Personalised medicine has facilitated genetic-based drug discoveries and diagnosis. It also enables assessment of efficacy, adverse drug reactions, appropriate dose regimen, prognosis and monitoring of response.
The ‘magic bullet’, Imatinib mesylate, was the first successful personalised drug in haematology. It has changed the treatment paradigm of chronic myeloid leukaemia since its approval in 2001. Nearly 20 years may have passed, but there is still much excitement with rapid evolution and new discoveries made. In fact, there are now numerous targeted agents and immunotherapy that gives hope to patients with haematological malignancies that were fatal in the past. However, personalised medicine is far from perfect. It often incurs a high cost on both healthcare providers and patients even though some may argue that it is cost-effective, as it improves healthcare and the quality of life of patients while decreasing wastage of medication.
It is clear that personalised medicine is shaping the future of medicine and haematology and it will forever change the way we practise. In the not so distant future, a diagnosis of cancer might be directly tied to a genetic mutation rather than an organ, or like a crystal ball, a drop of blood could clearly tell us all in making a diagnosis and form a treatment plan. We are fortunate to be able to witness and participate in these enormous changes, and yet we are unfortunate because it is hard for most of us to keep up with such rapid changes which invalidates a guideline or protocol before we can even get around to using it.
With that, I would like to invite all of you to join us in the coming 17th scientific meeting of the Malaysian Society of Haematology held at Shangri-la Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on the 2nd till the 4th of April 2020. It is my hope that we can gather to learn and share the latest knowledge of current and future’s personalised adult and paediatric haematology with various experts within the country and overseas. Last but not the least; I hope we will always remember that while medicine is a science; it is also an art that needs the human touch for the well-being of our patients.
Prof Dr Bee Ping Chong