In recent times, the healthcare industry has witnessed numerous innovative technologies that have immensely contributed to its growth. Precision medicine is one such breakthrough that has enabled the investigation of various diseases at the genetic level.
Gaining a complete understanding of the diseases with the context of individual genetic formation leads to a better assessment of the level of risks, probability of side effects of the treatment, and effectiveness of the medicines. It helps the doctors to curate a personalized treatment for the patients according to their individual needs.
The evolution in the field of bioanalytical research has enabled cellular studies such as metabolites in single cells, transcripts, and proteins, which in turn have empowered the ability to study cellular heterogeneity and how this affects normal and impaired processes in the human body. The single-cell analysis aims to recognize the differences between cells. It provides a new arena for bioinformatics as bulk-cell data analysis methods may not be directly applicable to single-cell data.
The study of genes through single-cell analysis has especially proved to be beneficial for innovation in cancer treatment. The increasing prevalence of cancer in the global population requires advanced solutions like precision medicine and targeted therapies. This approach allows prevention and treatment of the disease based on individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle of each person. With the help of this technology, doctors and researchers can predict more accurately which treatment and prevention strategies will work for a particular disease and in which group of people.
Governments and healthcare agencies across the world are working toward developing a technology to expand the arsenal of tools accessible to support the development and adoption of precision medicine solutions over “one-size-fits-all” therapies. Currently, precision medicine therapeutics are largely in the extensive research phase with fewer clinical applications limited to the highly advanced healthcare facilities in the world.
However, the growth of precision medicine technology over the last few years has been monumental across different regions. For instance, according to a BIS Research report, the Middle East precision medicine market is expected to witness substantial growth. Significant investments by the healthcare companies to meet industry demands and the growing adoption of precision medicine among major end users are the major factors leading to the growth of the Middle East precision medicine market.
Top Five Current Developments and Facts about Precision Medicine
The term “precision medicine” might be the most talked-about topic in the healthcare industry, but it is still largely unknown to the common people. It is essential to raise awareness about the potential treatment procedures that a patient might have to go through. This article further discusses five must known facts about precision medicine.
1. Major function in diagnosis and treatment – Various cancer studies have established that the this disease can have different impacts on different people, which has changed the perception of the one-size-fits-all treatment procedures. The procedure of precision medicine involves DNA testing of the tumor to identify the mutations or genetic changes that drive the cancer growth. Such detailed analysis of the tumor at the genetic level enables the doctors to select a treatment that targets the mutations in the tumor DNA. While this practice is not widespread yet, cancer specialists believe that precision treatments will play a significant role in the future of cancer care.
2. Limitations of precision medicine- As one size does not fit all, even the targeted therapy is not appropriate for all the patients. The application of targeted therapy depends on if the specific gene mutation of the tumor can be blocked with the available drug compounds. This means that patients whose tumors are driven by unidentifiable driver mutations are not eligible for the precision medicine treatment.
To specify the candidates for targeted therapy, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has set certain criteria that need to be met for the approval of targeted therapy.
3. Impact on prevention of cancer- Precision medicine has enabled the development of various molecular biomarkers that signal the disease risk or presence before the clinical symptoms occur. This helps in focusing on prevention and early intervention rather than the treatment during the advanced stages of the disease.
Early genetic testing in certain areas can save lives. For instance, women having variations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have higher chances of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer as compared to the general female population. Therefore, genetic tests, such as prophylactic surgery, chemoprevention, and other preventive measures, can aid in saving a patient’s life.
4. Importance of next-generation sequencing (NSG) in precision medicine- The evolution of NSG technology has been the base of development of precision medicine. With its low cost and high outputs, NGS has become an irreplaceable part of precision medicine. Further, rapid characterization of individual biological profiles and the selection of gnomically matched treatments have expanded the application of NGS in the development of novel targeted drugs, such as Gleevec, Herceptin, Iressa, Tarceva, Erbitus, and Vectibix.
NGS technologies have evolved in terms of resolution and accuracy, sequencing speed throughout the process, and cost-effectiveness in genomic analysis to accelerate biological and biomedical research. Such extensive genomic research has increased access to genomic information, which in turn has led to the development of precision medicine.
5. Delay in the clinical application of precision medicine- The transition of precision medicine from research to clinical application has lagged the pace of scientific discoveries. Currently, there is limited clinical evidence regarding the effect of using genomic tests on cancer patients. The lack of strong reimbursement policies, financial resources, and favourable healthcare policies are affecting the adoption rates of precision medicine technologies in clinical application.
Also, Due to the rising healthcare costs, policymakers and insurance payers are being less supportive, which in turn has limited patient access as well as has declined the research and development in precision medicine.
Precision medicine is an approach for the prevention and treatment of diseases. It considers individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person. This approach is gaining popularity in the healthcare industry as it allows the doctors and researchers to predict more accurately which treatment and prevention strategies should be used for a particular disease.
Although the complete clinical application of this procedure is yet to be achieved, the research and development is going on at a rapid pace.