What is Precision Medicine?
Precision medicine is a new medicinal approach specialized in medicine for individuals which takes into account the specific environment, demographic, lifestyle, and genetics of the patient. This field is extremely promising as it can increase the success rate and efficacy of medicinal treatments, managing or curing different diseases and disorders because they are personalized for the specific individual/group of individuals sharing the same patient-related characteristics.
What is the difference between personalized and Precision Medicine?
Precision medicine takes personalized medicine one step further with the addition of genomic analysis for diagnosis and drug protocol analysis. Prior to precision medicine, personalized medicine would take demographics and lifestyle into account when prescribing treatment but was much less specific than what is achieved through precision medicine.
Why is Precision Medicine so promising?
In 2021, the precision medicine market was valued at $66.1 billion and is expected to grow to $140.69 billion by 2028.
Precision medicine challenges the traditional “one-size fits all” approach to treating patients. Diseases and disorders arise in different patients for different reasons, so prescribing all patients with the same treatment can be ineffective. This is why we do not often see high efficacy in “one-size fits all” treatments.
Precision medicine increases the safety and efficacy of treatments and allows patients to go through fewer unsuccessful treatments before they find one that works for them.
Precision medicine solutions are an integral part of the pharmaceutical industry’s future, but the cost of this treatment is still unclear.
Precision Medicine in Cancer
Cancer cells are composed of genetically mutated versions of our own cells in the tissue. Many of these mutations may be harmless, but tumors become malignant when tumor suppressor genes are turned off, or oncogenes are turned on. Each tumor has a genetic makeup with various faulty tumor suppressors and oncogenes, and each combination of genes causes the tumor to “behave” differently than other tumors. This suggests that trying to treat all cancers, in the same manner, will be less effective, which has been shown through decades of trial and error while trying to find a cure for cancer.
Precision medicine offers a solution to deciphering the genetic complexities of cancer. By applying molecular profiling and bio-markers to assign treatments, doctors can avoid giving treatments that the patient will barely respond to.
Based on genetic profiling, doctors can prescribe specific drugs in controlled doses which target cells with specific mutations. This is especially important in cancer patients as oftentimes, the treatments are harsh and give rise to severe side effects. Avoiding these kinds of treatments, when possible, lessen the patients’ suffering. Refining targeted therapies are imperative to the growth of precision medicine in cancer.
Targeted therapies allow for specific treatments to precisely attack certain types of cancer cells of the individual patient.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a driving force in developing precision medicine with cancer genomics. With large amounts of cancer genome data from next-gen sequencing, AI can be used to pick up patterns for risk assessment, prognosis, and development of targeted therapies. As more data is collected (“Big-data”), AI algorithms become more accurate and reliable and can predict these factors better.
Precision Medicine and Pharmaceuticals
One of the many uses of precise 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 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 prescriptions that may not work for them or even make them worse. This 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.
As shown in the 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.
While precision 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 continuation of data collection will help refine AI systems and improve the precise medicine field.
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, for individuals with cystic fibrosis, the annual price of a life-saving precise medicine treatment is $300,000.
The extremely high cost of precise medicine is an obstacle that must be overcome before the 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.
The same technology used for precise medicine can be used in a plethora of different ways.
An extremely promising 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 precise medicine as it shows great opportunity for growth in other industries.