Precision psychiatry will ultimately enable practitioners to recognize various psychotic diseases that are more specific than the current DSM psychosis categories. Further, precision psychiatry will provide guidance as to which member within a class of so-called “me-too” drugs is the optimal match for each patient. This will stand in stark contrast to the chaotic hit-or-miss approach.
Precision psychiatry also will reveal the absurdity of current FDA clinical trials design for drug development. How can a molecule with a putative mechanism of action relevant to a specific biotype be administered to a hodgepodge of heterogeneous biotypes that have been lumped in 1 clinical category, and yet be expected to exert efficacy in most biotypes? It is a small miracle that some new drugs beat placebo despite the extensive variability in both placebo responses and drug responses. But it is well known that in all FDA placebo-controlled trials, the therapeutic response across the patient population varies from extremely high to extremely low, and worsening may even occur in a subset of patients receiving either the active drug or placebo. Perhaps drug response should be used as 1 methodology to classify biotypes of patients encompassed within a heterogeneous syndrome such as schizophrenia.
Precision psychiatry will represent a huge paradigm shift in the science and practice of our specialty. In his landmark book, Thomas Kuhn defined a paradigm as “an entire worldview in which a theory exists and all the implications that come from that view.”2 Precision psychiatry will completely disrupt the current antiquated clinical paradigm, transforming psychiatry into the clinical neuroscience it is. Many “omics,” such as genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, lipidomics, and metagenomics, will inevitably find their way into the jargon of psychiatrists.3
A marriage of science and technology is essential for the emergence of precision psychiatry. To achieve this transformative amalgamation, we need to reconfigure our concepts, reengineer our methods, reinvent our models, and redesign our approaches to patient care.
As Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”4 Precision psychiatry is our future. Let’s create it!