Precision Medicine and Precision Performance: The One Person Trial

Precision Trials: You might expect to find hundreds or thousands of participants in a medical trial, but an article in the April edition of Nature has highlighted the importance of one person trials in Precision Medicine. In this age of personal genomics, precision trials like those discussed are changing the face of medicine. Sports genetics can be applied in a similar way to personalize health and fitness in a precise manner using platforms like Athletigen.

The most surprising aspect covered in the article was that so few people actually respond to drugs and treatments in the way their doctor anticipated. It’s been reported that as little as 1 in 50 patients gain the desired benefits from statins, a commonly prescribed drug for controlling high cholesterol levels.

Before any pharmaceutical products are released into the market, they must first be tested in clinical trials in groups of patients to determine if the new product performs better than existing ones. Rather than focusing on the results of a large group, one person trials focus on each patient as an individual to determine if their current prescription schedule is best or if they would benefit from new treatment.

The one person trial innovation has been pushed along with the introduction of personal genetic profiling and electronic medical record keeping. The precision achieved from one person trials is an exciting prospect for patients because personalized information empowers decision making responsive to each patient’s genetic makeup, thereby maximizing the patient’s health and well-being. The one-person trial is also an exciting prospect for researchers, since the data provided gives a deeper look at patients and how small differences between them can affect individual response to drugs.

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Photo: Coaches like those at the World Athletics Center use Athletigen to better inform the training programs of their athletes.

Many are aware of the difference in response to medical treatment amongst different patients, but less attention has been paid to the differences in exercise and diet response between individual athletes. The idea of the precision trial can be extended to athletes, by seeing what genetic, physiological, and environmental factors may cause an athlete to react differently to a training program or diet. Sports genetics allows coaches and trainers to achieve a more holistic view of an athlete, and athletes to gain a better understanding of themselves.

Melanie Clarke, CrossFit’s Fittest Woman in Nova Scotia, Canada in 2015, shows us a perfect example of how you can tailor your training to your genetic makeup. After discovering her genetic profile, Melanie changed her approach to her CrossFit workouts to maximize her performance. For example, Melanie’s fast recovery time between intense movements despite a lower endurance capability meant that she changed her approach to tackling the Karen workout by breaking it down into shorter, quicker sets. Switching up her approach quickly led to her beating her old personal record in the workout over a minute.

Athletigen’s platform for precision performance allows us to look into our own bodies to better prepare ourselves for training and competition. Twenty-first century data allows us to empower ourselves with more knowledge about our bodies than ever before. Much like medicine, athletics is headed into the direction of the one-person trial so we can defy the standards of performance.

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