Precision medicine is a promising novel field that has “the potential to transform the entire healthcare ecosystem,” according to Jo Pisani. This is because it “provides cost-effective therapies that actually work, it can reduce healthcare expenses and, importantly for patients, we get disease-modifying therapies that can cure or prevent disease.” The approach behind precision medicine is an entirely new one in medical treatment that takes into account individual variations in genes, lifestyle, and environment. It’s based on the idea that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for everyone in healthcare and is designed to optimize efficiency by using genetic or molecular profiling. This blog post will explore what precision medicine is, how it works, what’s next for this emerging field and how it’s impacting personalized treatment plans.
What exactly “Precision Medicine” is?
In short, precision medicine is a medical concept that focuses on individualizing treatment for every patient. The first use of precision medicine was in the 1990’s, when doctors started to use it to treat cancer patients. It has since been used more and more since then, and now it is possible to tailor treatments based on a person’s genomic profile. It can also be used to identify which drugs will work best for an individual with a particular condition, or which treatment will be most effective at combating an infection/disease. With the help of precision medicine, medical professionals and researchers will be able to anticipate with more accuracy which disease-specific treatments and preventative measures will be effective in different groups of people. As opposed to a one-size-fits-all strategy, which develops illness treatment and preventative measures for the typical person while paying less attention to individual differences. Even though the phrase “precision medicine” is relatively new, the idea has long been present in healthcare. One of the biggest and most used methods of precision medicine could be, to limit the danger of complications, a person who needs a blood transfusion is not given blood from a donor chosen at random but rather from a donor whose blood type matches exactly that of the recipient.
Insight of precision medicine in oncology
With the objective of establishing long-term remission and boosting survival, precision oncology tries to match cancer patients with drugs that target particular mutations and gene expression patterns in their malignancies. Independent of the tumor’s tissue of origin, the primary idea is to use increased genetic testing to match patients to drugs that will work and are best suited to them and their needs. Precision oncology is quickly evolving into a fully realized paradigm for managing the treatment of cancer patients thanks to this development. Personalized medicine in the case of cancer involves using information about a person’s cancer to help with the diagnosis and treatment. Everyone who has the same form of cancer used to receive the same treatment in the past. However, we are aware that not everyone can be benefited from this one solution that fits all strategy. Cancer cells differ from healthy cells in that they have mutations to their genes (DNA). Genes serve as coding for instructions that cells must follow, and cancer cells act differently from healthy cells as a result of these gene alterations. Additionally, different cancers have various gene alterations. This is referred to as the cancer’s genomic profile by researchers. Each person’s cancer has a unique genetic profile which is unique to themselves. The goal of precision medicine is to provide treatment that caters to those variations. Precision medicine may be a new way of diagnosing and treating cancer, but it has advanced genetic testing to identify specific mutations in a patient’s tumor, then it is able to tailor treatment to those mutations. The study of precision medicine has been promising in many ways: it has led to better treatments, it has enabled clinicians to personalize care for their patients, and it has helped researchers to learn more about cancer biology.
Benefits of precision oncology
The precision oncology approach takes into account your own genetic makeup to offer therapy options specific to you and other people with similar genomic alterations. In order to stop cancer from spreading, this may entail analyzing your blood and tumor and, if necessary, administering “targeted treatments,” which are medications or other substances that target particular cells. Targeted therapies as opposed to chemotherapy, might be less likely to kill healthy cells, leading to fewer and milder side effects. The way that oncologists treat cancer patients is evolving as a result of precision medicine. It offers prospective substitute for therapies, which can occasionally be unnecessary or ineffective.
What’s the next stage in precision medicine?
The future of healthcare can be greatly shaped by precision medicine. Currently precision medicine is now viewed as a healthcare strategy for both the present and the future, particularly with the explosion of personalized care delivery, thanks to the U.S. government’s introduction of the “Precision Medicine Initiative” in 2015, which led to a $215 million investment in the NIH’s 2016 budget. While precision medicine is now the most progressed in oncology, it also has wider, more profound implications for diseases besides oncology and those in the late stages, such as rare and genetic diseases. On the other hand, integrating precision medicine into healthcare system is a challenging task as it will only be effective if medical professionals have access to the tools that they need that will enable them to understand the complex data produced by the precise approaches. The lack of knowledge and training among primary care providers is a major obstacle in the path of precision medicine which it has to be tackled. Primary care physicians are being urged to offer clinical context for their patients’ test results as public interest in commercial genetic testing rises. The bulk of practitioners, though, have not had comprehensive training in genetics or genomes. Healthcare educators must incorporate genomic and genetics into CPD training courses or the curriculum to increase the implementation of precision medicine procedures for it to be used more often in the future, only then can precision medicine be used to treat millions of people indefinitely and adopt the healthcare systems to this novel approach.
How it’s impacting personalized treatment plans
With precision medicine, the tests are more accurate, and patients avoid needless treatments and medicines meaning that the readmission rates are far lower than normal. Precision medicine is based on precise genetic and demographic characteristics. For example, before choosing the “correct” therapy, a patient being treated for anxiety may experiment with a range of alternative prescription drug types and intensity. This back-and-forth is drastically reduced by precision medicine; before prescribing, doctors might request a genetic test to determine whether the patient has a hereditary condition that would render the treatment less effective. Big data is used by precision medicine as a main diagnostic and decision-making tool to assist physicians in reducing educated assumptions. Furthermore, it aids medical professionals in improving their methods for preventing, diagnosing, and treating these diseases by helping them comprehend the underlying mechanisms through which they arise. There are reduced expenses and spending money up front on a precision diagnostic can result in long-term financial savings, even if it may seem paradoxical that precision medicine, with its sequencing, cutting-edge diagnostic tests, and individually targeted medications can save healthcare expenses while also reducing burnout among doctors/physicians. This frees up the days of busy understaffed healthcare personnel, who are now better equipped to handle the patients in need of the greatest attention. With fewer patients coming often to change prescriptions and treatment programs. This is especially crucial now that there are more physician shortages.
New trends emerging in precision medicine
The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance the conventional symptom-driven practice of medicine, enabling early interventions utilizing sophisticated diagnostics and customizing better and more reasonably customized treatments, is one new trend in precision medicine which will have a substantial impact in the present and future. The creation of cutting-edge, big data platforms powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning has the potential to transform the medical industry and enable speedy analysis of large amounts of data. Even though this creates previously unheard-of difficulties for data storage, processing, exchange, and curation, it will ultimately improve our comprehension of biology. However, we must enhance the processes for genetic testing in clinical settings and incorporate the investigation of genetic and metabolic make-up and function into the established clinical models. We also need to create a library of information on how to use genetics in healthcare, as well as preventative therapeutic measures.
Drug development and patient care delivery methods are evolving. The promise of personalized medicine is that it will enhance patient treatment and ultimately benefit society significantly. Fully individualized medicine development is a process that has already begun and will continue in the upcoming years, but it is obvious that the initial stages of this journey will hinge on identifying scientifically sound biomarkers and developing these accurate clinical treatment plans.