The power of precision medicine

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Lu Rahman looks at the role precision medicine is playing in how we approach the patient and the way we  treat disease.

We hear increasingly about the shift away from one size fits all medicine. It does of course, make perfect sense and in the cancer space in particular we have been well versed on the benefits precision medicine can achieve by being able to deliver targeted medicine to individual patients at the right time. Like many areas of our lives – drug development included – advances in technology are changing the way we approach many things, and this extends to medicine.

In their paper Are innovation and new technologies in precision medicine paving a new era in patients centric care?1Attila A. Seyhan & Claudio Carini examine the transformation within medicine.  They write: “The goal of precision medicine (PM) is to enable clinicians to quickly, efficiently and accurately predict the most appropriate course of action for a patient. To achieve this, clinicians are in need of tools that are both compatible with their clinical workflow and economically feasible. Those tools can simplify the process of managing the biological complexity that underlies human diseases. To support the creation and refinement of those tools, a PM ecosystem is in continuous development and is the solution to the problem. The PM ecosystem is beginning to link and share information among clinicians, laboratories, research enterprises, and clinical-information-system developers. It is expected that these efforts will create the foundation of a continuously evolving health-care system that is capable of significantly accelerating the advancement of PM technologies”.

According to Businesswire – which estimates this sector will hit $100.168 billion by the year 2026 – growth in this market will be driven by chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and obesity. It highlights a range of developments in this market linked to cognitive disorders such as the discovery by scientists at the University of Buffalo, that a human gene, some Alzheimer’s Disease medicines or a drugs, fail in human studies, despite showing promising results in animal studies. Diabetes has also been highlighted as growth area for precision medicine.

Technology has a significant role to play in this area of medicine with many companies spotting its potential and opportunity. Recently Sophia Genetics a pioneer in data-driven medicine, and Hitachi entered into a long-term agreement to bring clinical, genomic and real-world insights to healthcare providers, pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies and extend what they call the “democratisation of data-driven precision medicine globally for the benefit of patients”.

The companies identified multiple areas for potential collaboration including secure personal genomics data management, deployment of data and insights for better healthcare decisions and acceleration of drug development in oncology and other disease areas. The two companies will also collaborate on R&D related new product development which is expected to lead to new joint offerings.

Other exciting developments in this area include the announcement of a European consortium to use ai to improve pancreatic cancer treatment. The University of Glasgow will play a key role here, using artificial intelligence to improve treatments for pancreatic cancer. Other partners include the Karolinska Institutet, Radboud University in the Netherlands, the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre, Oslo University Hospital, and Siemens.

This PANCAIM consortium will improve treatment for pancreatic cancer patients, utilising tools such as artificial intelligence, integrated genomics and medical imaging. Dr David Chang from the Institute of Cancer Sciences will lead the work for the University of Glasgow, contributing multi-omics datasets, and also defining the clinical relevance and the modelling of the AI algorithm in the management of patients with pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is often quickly fatal, and the incidence of the disease is rising. Patients with the disease face the lowest survival of all cancers in Europe (median survival time 4.6 months).

Dr Chang said: “Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease, with one of the lowest survival rates in all cancer types, and urgent novel treatment strategies are needed. Over the years, we have and are continuing to generate and accumulate large multi-omics datasets of genomics, transcriptomics, digital pathology and radiology.

“We now have the computer power and artificial intelligence algorithm to interrogate these data in a way we never did before, which will help better understand the disease and ultimately how to better treat it.”

The potential of precision medicine across a range of diseases is clear. The combination of expertise, technology and the desire to give specific treatments to specific patients at specific times will help to further develop this field, resulting in a move away from the one-size-fits-all, often costly, approach.

Volume 22, Issue 2 – Spring 2021




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