What is Genomic Medicine?
Defined by the NIH, genomic medicine “is an emerging medical discipline that involves using genomic information about an individual as part of their clinical care (e.g. for diagnostic or therapeutic decision-making) and the health outcomes and policy implications of that clinical use.”
The human genome project has collected and analyzed an abundance of data, which has refined the field of genomic medicine. With the information discovered by the human genome project, physicians are able to diagnose better and treat patients.
Genomic medicine has played a pivotal role in developing the precise medicine field, allowing for significant advancements in treating patients.
Genomic medicine is helping to refine fields such as oncology, pharmacology, rare disease, and infectious disease.
Genomic Medicine financial data
The genomic medicine field saw a 22.3% growth in value between 2020 and 2021 and is expected to continue growing.
According to fortune business insights, “the global genomics market is projected to grow from $27.81 billion in 2021 to $94.65 billion in 2028 at CAGR of 19.4% in the forecast period, 2021-2028.”
As of 2019, only about 80% of human coding genes have had a function identified, leaving around 20% to be discovered. This does not even account for non-coding genes, which can still play an important role in disease development, drug metabolism, and more. With so much unknown, research in the field can continue to grow simultaneously to develop treatment and diagnosis technologies.
What kind of patient is eligible for genomic medicine?
Genetic testing can be used to diagnose a plethora of genetic diseases that have been identified through the human genome project. For example, diseases like Down syndrome and cystic fibrosis can be determined through prenatal testing, while the likelihood of developing different types of cancer can be determined through predictive testing.
Viruses that utilize genetic material such as COVID-19 can also be identified using PCR tests which amplify and recognize the genetic material in the virus. In addition to testing, genomic medicine can be used in precise medicine treatments via pharmacogenetics. Pharmacogenetics can be used to treat a variety of diseases such as cancer, psychiatric diseases, asthma, and more.
One of the many uses of genomic medicine is personalized and accurate drug product doses of prescriptions. Many diseases can arise in different people for different reasons, and because of this, patients should be treated differently.
By considering genetics, environment, demographic, and lifestyle, scientists and doctors can determine the best prescription to treat patients with a more specific delivery system and dosage. This helps increase effectiveness and eliminate excess treatment. This has many benefits, including safer treatment and cost reduction for patients.
Typically when patients are prescribed medicine, doctors will consider a few factors such as lifestyle, genetics, and demographic factors to choose the best treatment plan. Even with these considerations, patients often end up being either over or under-prescribed or with a medicine that will not work for them. This leads to complications with side effects and results in patients wasting time and money on ineffective treatments.
Genetic testing has reformed the process of prescribing medicine and has been shown to increase the effectiveness of treatment in patients seeking psychiatric medication. Eliminating the estimation and a trial portion of prescription prevents patients from spending months or even years taking drugs prescriptions that may not work for them or even make them worse and therefore saves the patient from spending money on ineffective treatment.
Psychiatric patients who used a combinatorial pharmacogenomic test to determine treatment ended up saving an average of over $1000 per year on their medical treatment. Additionally, targeted medicines such as trastuzumab which targets the HER2 gene in breast cancer, have shown an increase in efficacy in treatment.
Shown is a study by Kaplan-Meier, “28% of the patients treated with trastuzumab plus chemotherapy were free of disease progression at 12 months compared with 9% of the patients treated with chemotherapy alone.” Overall, genetic testing in determining medical treatment provides great accuracy and can help cut costs and time.
Limitations of Genomic and precise medicine
In some cases, precision medicine can end up saving the consumer money by finding the correct treatment faster; however, more times than not, the price of precision medicine is costly for the average individual. For example, the annual cost of life-saving precise medicine treatment for individuals with cystic fibrosis is $300,000.
The extremely high cost of precise medicine is an obstacle that must be overcome before precise medicine can be accessible to everyone. In its early stages, as systems are still being developed, precise medicine will remain at a high cost for both manufacturers and patients. This is due to the highly specialized nature of the field. Hopefully, the cost of precise medicine can decrease with time and research.
Another limitation in the field is the lack of trained technicians that can administer and analyze these tests. While this is not an issue in the United States and other developed countries, there is an extreme shortage of qualified physicians in other countries. Sequencing equipment can be expensive, and sending tests overseas can be complicated and costly. This leaves countries without proper equipment for sequencing at a disadvantage when it comes to genomic medicine.
In the wake of COVID-19, there have been major supply chain issues, which have impacted testing for viruses like COVID-19. During peaks of the virus, it can be incredibly difficult to schedule testing and long wait times for results.
While genomic medicine has a long way to go before becoming mainstream, it has a promising future. Technology advances such as AI have rapidly sped up the field’s growth and continue to drive the field toward success.
The same technology used for genomic medicine can be used in many different ways.
An up-and-coming market is in the health and wellness field. Genetic tests, personalized diets, vitamin regimens, and exercise plans can be suggested to individuals. This is promising for the field of genomic medicine as it shows excellent growth opportunities in other industries.