Research Topic

Precision Medicine in Neonates

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Precision medicine can be defined as a structured approach to either treat, or prevent specific diseases based on the inter-individual variability in genes and disease (like gender, polymorphisms, pharmacogenetics), environment (like drug exposure, nutrition) and lifestyle (such as stress). It is therefore up ...

Precision medicine can be defined as a structured approach to either treat, or prevent specific diseases based on the inter-individual variability in genes and disease (like gender, polymorphisms, pharmacogenetics), environment (like drug exposure, nutrition) and lifestyle (such as stress). It is therefore up to researchers to explore and use novel research approaches to better understand mechanisms underlying a patients’ health, disease or outcome, and the improve the variability in responses to interventions, including but not limited to medication.

As recently illustrated in a review in Frontiers in Molecular Sciences for neonatal sepsis, this concept also holds a lot of promises to improve neonatal management (prevention or treatment) and subsequent outcome. Precision medicine (subgroup approaches) hereby serves as a go between empirical (one treatment fits all) or stratified medicine (e.g. disease state, or sex), and individualized (every newborn is unique) medicine.

Unfortunately, neonatal medicine is lagging behind. To further quantify this, a PubMed for ‘precision medicine’ resulted in 43554 hits, with a significant increase from 2010 onwards, while ‘precision medicine + newborn’ only resulted in 550 hits, with an delayed increase only from 2015 onwards. This simply reflects the need for a focused special topic on precision medicine in neonates. Neonatology is ready to move on from one protocol for every preterm towards patient specific treatments and support. Potential topics include, but are not limited to lung (prevention or treatment of bronchopulmonary dysplasia), the brain (asphyxia, preterm delivery, seizures), the kidney (variability in renal function and impairment), treatment of infections (patient selection, route of administration, duration), or circulation (patent ductus, functional echocardiography), as well as papers focusing on newborn screening, parent-newborn interventions or individualized follow-up, laboratory medicine or precision medicine concepts related to pharmacokinetics or -dynamics or nutrition. We deliberately aim for a broad scope of review papers or original research papers since we hereby aim to increase awareness among caregivers that precision medicine has a proven track record to improve outcome in e.g. oncology, and is likewise, also very promising to improve outcome in (pre)term neonates admitted in our units.


Keywords: individualized medicine, targeted treatment, precision medicine, newborn, neonatal intensive care


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