How precision genomics and digital technologies could disrupt healthcare

What is precision genomics, and how will this space work with digital technologies?

Precision genomics medicine is a customized medical approach that focuses on identifying and optimizing medical treatments and medical-prevention solutions based on individuals’ genomic profiling. In addition to this molecular makeup, precision medicine also takes into account the environment and lifestyle of individuals to better address their health problems.

In recent years, this emerging field has gained more attention from both healthcare stakeholders and technology developers due to its potential to establish itself as a reliable tool for predicting diseases, improving health outcomes, designing customized, more effective drugs, and decreasing the overall costs of healthcare.

Some experts believe the future of precision genomics medicine is closely linked to the use of AI and machine learning, since these tools enable early interventions based on state-of-the-art diagnostics and personalized treatments. The latest developments in AI and machine learning make possible fast analysis of huge amounts of data that can be used to provide a better understanding of how genes impact a predisposition to, an occurrence of, or the evolution of complex diseases.

Precision genomics medicine is expected to transform the entire healthcare system in the near future by turning personalized care into a standard.

Human genome – the basis of precision medicine
The basis of precision medicine is the human genome, whose study and understanding allow scientists and medical professionals to better comprehend the impact of its variations on people’s health. The study of genome’s structure, mapping, function and evolution (a field called genomics) provides a comprehensive picture of how a person’s biological functions impact each other. Genomics also predicts the issues that may appear when genetic interferences affect these functions.

The 2.7 billion dollar Human Genome Project, carried out between 1990 and 2003, has sequenced around 20,500 human genes that outlined the blueprint of the human body. This sequencing was used by scientists as the pillar for identifying the genetic anomalies responsible for a disease’s development.

It revealed why certain people were more genetically predisposed than others to develop certain health issues (such as diabetes). It also helped describe the characteristics of certain diseases – why some people develop more aggressive forms of cancer, why some people living with HIV live longer than others and even why some individuals do not respond to certain methods of chemotherapy.

The benefits of precision genomics medicine
Precision genomics medicine can recognize a disease long before the symptoms appear. Early detection increases the chances for administering an efficient treatment, which translates into less suffering for the patient and lower healthcare costs by avoiding hospitalization. At the same time, less money is spent on ineffective treatments or medication, since genomics is able to provide patient-customized treatment and medication.

Precision medicine also has an impact on pharmaceutical clinical trials, reducing their time, cost and failure rate. Diseases become more complex, and developing new cures becomes more expensive. A report published in 2019 indicated that pharmaceutical companies spend, on average, 17% of revenues on R&D.

With an estimated cost of $4 to $7 billion needed to put a new medicine on the market, it’s essential to develop patient-tailored treatments and medicines that have more chances to succeed with less risk of being ineffective than one-size-fits-all cures

How is precision genomics medicine affecting patients?
The customization of treatments and drugs provides patients with new solutions for their chronic or acute conditions, for improving their life conditions and in many cases even their life expectancy.

How is precision genomics medicine affecting providers?
Although it’s an overwhelming task, integrating precision genomics medicine with the patients’ records is a necessary step that providers must take so they can offer customized treatments and drug plans. This enables providers to improve the health outcomes of their patients and make evidence-based clinical decisions in the best interest of these patients.

Providers also have the responsibility of educating the patients before they are genetically tested by explaining what precision medicine is and by answering their questions.

Original article: Published on Mobile Health News on February 11, 2022
Photo credit: Freepik