Precise nutrition, personalized nutrition, targeted medicine, precision medicine, targeted cancer therapies, targeted gene nutrition and cell nutrition: These are some of the emerging technologies that are rapidly moving us into new frontiers of medical and nutritional innovation.
These innovative technologies have the potential to change the way we (and our animals) live and cope with illnesses and devastating diseases such as cancer.
Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new cancer treatment called CAR T cell therapy. CAR T stands for “chimeric antigen receptor T cell.” T cells harness the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. The thought behind CAR T is to use a patient's own immune system T cells and engineer them in such a way that the T cells can better recognize cancer cells and neutralize them without damaging organs or causing harm to the individual.
The National Cancer Institute website provides excellent information on targeted cancer therapies. Most of these therapies focus on drugs (ones that are already approved to treat specific types of cancer or are in development) that utilize an individual’s unique genes to treat the disease.
Would it be possible to use the information on a person’s or animal’s genes to identify whether the individual may be predisposed to develop a devastating disease such as cancer? And would it be possible to use such information to prevent the onset of such a disease?
Last year alone, it was estimated that some 1.6 million Americans would be diagnosed with cancer. The key is to understand what drives cancer and its different forms, what genes are involved and how we can downregulate (“turn off”) their expression.
There are already several studies taking place, and research is ongoing in the field of animal nutrition, demonstrating the impact that nutrients have on gene expression and how such expression affects performance and health. As work continues to expand in this field and into human and companion animal nutrition, we may be able to design diets based on the genetic makeup of a person or animal.
This is a game changer. Imagine providing diets that will feed the unique genes, provide a healthy life, and reduce or delay the onset of disease. Once we understand what an individual’s gene requirement is for certain nutrients such as selenium, zinc or a fatty acid, precise nutrition could provide an optimized diet that’s just right for their body’s needs.
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