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Theranostics is widely known within the pharmaceutical field but is almost unknown outside it. A report in 2000 said that the drugs firm PharmaNetics had invented it as a blend of therapeutics and diagnostics.

Its original sense was of a two-stage drugs package — a diagnostic test that identified patients who were most likely to be helped by a new medication, and a targeted drug therapy based on the test results. The aim was to create treatments, using genetic and other methods, which were tailored to individual patients, an area of research called personalised medicine.

With the development in the past decade of specialist techniques at the molecular level, theranostics has also come to refer to a medication that would simultaneously diagnose and treat a disease and even provide feedback about how effective it has been in each individual patient. This is still in its early stages — a researcher predicted in New Scientist in April that “theranostics will enter clinical trials within the decade.”

Example citations:

Scientists had been excited about “theranostics,” where implanted devices would both diagnose and treat illnesses in people automatically, giving insulin for diabetes, for example.

New York Times, 30 Nov. 2012.

Theranostics is referred to as a treatment strategy that combines therapeutics with diagnostics, aiming to monitor the response to treatment and increase drug efficacy and safety, which would be a key part of personalized medicine and require considerable advances in predictive medicine.

Biotech Week, 26 Sep, 2012.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 11 May 2013

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The English language is forever changing. New words appear; old ones fall out of use or alter their meanings. World Wide Words tries to record at least a part of this shifting wordscape by featuring new words, word histories, words in the news, and the curiosities of native English speech.

World Wide Words is copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
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Last modified: 11 May 2013.