New approach to ‘transform’ health system

(Australian Associated Press)


Four-year-old Louis, born with a debilitating neurological disorder, owes his life to a medical approach experts say could help transform Australia’s health care system.

Louis was born with Leigh syndrome, a rare neurodegenerative condition that can kill within years.

“We were told he was unlikely to survive more than a few years,” his mother Amy said.

But researchers used what’s known as precision medicine – which combines knowledge of a person’s genetic makeup, lifestyle and environment, to isolate the gene behind Louis’s illness.

They found that particular gene responds to treatment, giving the young boy a second chance at life.

“Precision medicine has changed our family’s life and we will forever be grateful,” Amy said.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt will on Wednesday launch a report showing precision medicine has the potential to transform the country’s health care system.

To date it’s focused on cancer and single-gene disorders which lead to intellectual and physical disabilities in children.

But experts say it could be used to treat conditions like sepsis, and for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mental illness.

“With careful planning, advances in precision medicine and the technologies that support it it will offer great value for the health of all Australians. Precision medicine is the personalised medicine of the future,” said chair of the Australian Council of Learned Academies, Professor Bob Williamson, who worked on the report.

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