The Medical Word of the Week is Theranostic

The author learned a new word this weekend while attending the annual meeting of the Association of Health Care Journalists in Philadelphia.

In a richly-informative session on ethics of clinical trials, one of the speakers, Dr. Jason Karlawish – a bioethicist, geriatrician and Alzheimer’s researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, taught me a new term: theranostic (alt. spelling: theragnostic).

The neologism calculatingly brings together the concepts of medical therapy and diagnosis. This goes beyond biomarkers, he explained; theranostics are novel tests or diagnostic markers that would identify patients who, as defined, benefit from a particular therapy.

The first international conference on theranostics will be held in June, he told the audience.

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  • Katherine,
    You’re right, and we don’t need more gibberish in medicine. But the concept is novel and, I think, worth exploring.

    Glad you clued me in on the comics meeting. Will find out more on that –

  • Dear Dr. Schattner,

    I’m happy to hear people are learning of this new vocabulary word. I’ve noticed a disjunction in language between many people who work within this industry (personalized medicine, precision medicine, companion diagnostics) and see how necessary it is to facilitate dicussion! I’m currently organizing the second major theranostics conference being hosted in the USA.

    We have a lot of good science development to hear about!

    Best, Lisa

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