From risk profiling to gene therapy and molecular diagnostics, personalized medicine opens new, exciting fields to medical research. Not only is it good news for the patients: considerable improvements are at stake, both for health systems and pharmaceutical firms now struggling to reinvent themselves. But the road ahead is still full of obstacles.
In most places in the world, the death rate keeps falling. Even in the West, where we keep doing our best to tempt fate by gaining more weight, the trend continues to be toward longer life. Now some scientists believe the rapid growth of genetic knowledge may make further medical breakthroughs even more likely. How much longer might we live? And how will society cope if we do?
In today's era of plenty, many factors, including well-publicised health scares, lack of trust in risk control systems and a fear of new technology have resulted in a backlash against transgenic plants and their use in food in Europe. Attitudes to genetically modified organisms in medicine or even in agriculture in North America are different. However, the factors that contribute to this wariness in Europe should be examined because of their potential impact on innovations in all fields.