June 17th, 2013
“The real challenge of human biology, beyond the task of finding out how genes orchestrate the construction and maintenance of the miraculous mechanism of our bodies, will lie ahead as we seek to explain how our minds have come to organize thoughts sufficiently well to investigate our own existence.”
The initial enthusiasm following the mapping of the human genome has given way to a more circumspect outlook. With the exception of a small number of promising interventions, advances in genomic science have yet to yield a critical mass of therapeutic breakthroughs – thus forestalling the birth of the era of precision medicine (PM).
While a comprehensive genomic understanding of disease and concomitant molecular-based patient taxonomy would doubtless hasten the arrival of PM, a significantly less costly alternative offers a promising interim approach. A methodology known as collaborative filtering (CF) which has already achieved widespread use in advertising and marketing, has the potential to offer powerful insights not only to advertisers and others desiring to influence purchasing behavior but also to physicians, allied health care professional, patients, and their families by offering personalized advice and recommendations regarding health and disease.
CF relies directly on aggregated subject/user behavior to reveal complex and unexpected patterns that would otherwise be difficult to capture using known data attributes. Recommendations generated from analyses of these patterns have demonstrated significantly greater reliability than those using more traditional demographic categories. The core idea behind applying CF to clinical decision-making is to make decisions about a patient based on historical data derived from multiple “similar” patients presenting multiple “similar” cases. As Victor Streecher explains, “collaborative filtering in the health area could match the coping strategies, medical decisions, and preferences of similar others with specific needs and interests of the user.”Read the rest of this entry »