The pursuit of personalized medicine, also known as precision or individualized medicine, has been ongoing for centuries. Long before the age of DNA sequencing and high-tech diagnostics, doctors would assess the four humors (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile) to tailor treatments to individual patients. Today, we stand on the edge of a new era. The sequencing of DNA's four chemical building blocks of our genome (Adenine, Thymine, Guanine, Cytosine), along with the gathering of more and more precise medical data from devices such as your connected watches or medical imaging technology, equips healthcare with more accurate predictive tools than possible in the past.
Source: MIT Technology Review
Healthcare is leaving behind the era of one-size-fits-all as it pivots towards a patient-centered model that aligns treatment to the right patient, at the right time.
Physicians usually recommend medical interventions based on what works best for patients on average. As a result, many health care systems around the world deliver inefficient care that fails to help significant portions of the patient population. In the upcoming world of what could be personalized medicine, this article explores its scientific advancements, the business and investment insights it offers, and the ethical considerations it brings to the forefront.
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Genomic Biomarkers, Epigenetics, Proteomics, and Metabolomics
This first tip should be a juicy one. It’ll keep your readers with you.
In order to delve deeper into the foundation of this technology, it is imperative to grasp the concept of biomarkers. Biomarkers are characteristics that can be assessed in human samples; they provide information about various physiological, pathological predictors within an organism. For instance, specific DNA sequences, particular protein expression, and the presence of certain metabolites in your body all reveal crucial insights into the intricate genetic and molecular composition of each patient. This, in turn, paves the way for the development of precise treatment strategies.
The term "precise" in this context signifies a holistic and all-encompassing approach to healthcare. Achieving optimal therapeutic outcomes is not a matter of simply relying on a miraculous tailored pill. Rather, it demands a synergy of multiple factors aimed at rapidly restoring a patient to a state of good health.
Considerations of dietary choices, physical activity levels, and lifestyle adjustments are just as important as the personalized drug.
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The Future of the Personalized Medicine Market - A Bright Horizon
The personalized medicine market is on a remarkable growth trajectory. It is expected to surge from US$239.3 billion in 2022 to US$648.9 billion by 2030.
Factors driving this growth include the increasing availability of genetic testing, growing recognition of genetics in disease development, and the development of new targeted therapies.
Graphic: DTech Communications
Firms on the lookout:
Tempus Labs is a genetic testing company that focuses on cancer. The company uses whole-genome sequencing to identify genetic mutations that are driving cancer growth. Tempus Labs also uses AI to analyze this data and provide personalized treatment recommendations for patients.
Flatiron Health is a data analytics company that is focused on oncology. The company collects and analyzes data from millions of cancer patients to identify trends and patterns that can be used to improve patient care. Flatiron Health also develops software tools to help oncologists make better treatment decisions.
Verily is a life sciences company that is focused on developing new technologies to improve healthcare. Verily is working on a variety of projects, including personalized medicine, wearable devices, and digital health tools.
Guardant Health is a liquid biopsy company that develops blood tests to detect cancer at very early stages. Guardant Health is also working on developing personalised cancer treatment and predicting how patients will respond to different therapies.
23andMe is a direct-to-consumer genetic testing company that offers a variety of tests, including tests for ancestry, health risks, and carrier status. 23andMe also offers and develops personalized genetic counseling services.
The Case of Flatiron Health
Flatiron Health is a healthcare technology company that is working to bring personalized medicine to cancer patients. The company was founded in 2012 by a team of entrepreneurs and oncologists who were frustrated by the lack of data and insights available to help them make better treatment decisions for their patients.
After making their own OncoEMR software platform, Flatiron Health used data from patients to develop new insights into cancer biology and to create tools that help doctors create personalized treatment plans. For instance, a successful case involved a 55-year-old woman with advanced lung cancer. The woman's tumor was tested using Flatiron Health's genomics analysis platform. The test results showed that the woman's tumor had a very specific genetic mutation that was known to be responsive to a specific targeted cancer drug.
The woman's doctor prescribed the targeted cancer drug based on the results of the genomics analysis. The woman responded well to the drug and her tumor shrank significantly, highlighting the power of personalized gene targeting cancer drugs.
While this innovative approach holds the promise of tailoring treatments to the individual, as demonstrated in the case above, it also confronts significant challenges as this revolution unfolds. For example the absence of a clear directive from public health reimbursement, to the changing paradigm of healthcare, may lead to a decline in research and development (R&D) commitments within this field.
Furthermore, personalized medicine relies on a foundation of patient data, including genetic insights, medical histories, and lifestyle details. Protecting this sensitive information is of utmost importance.
Consider the complexities involved in integrating systems for the sharing of data from diverse sources. For example, merging data from a patient's connected Garmin watch with their digital medical records for transmission to a trusted pharmaceutical company is a difficult task. This task isn't just about technological integration, it necessitates the development of standardized protocols, data sharing agreements, and stringent security measures to protect both the accuracy and privacy of the information. Undoubtedly, quite an ascent lies ahead.