Technology and Personalized Medicine

We do know by now that personalized medicine is the new “in” thing making waves in the world of Medical Biotechnology. Millions of people have been touched by the era of personalized medicine, but the field is still in its infancy.

Scientists are hard at work to learn more about how genes affect our health and how treatments and prevention strategies for various diseases could be customized for each individual based on the information these genes provide. As technological innovation continues to advance, we have discovered new ways to diagnose and monitor the condition of patients.

Today’s new technologies allow doctors to gather increasingly detailed information about the progression and treatment of disease and even offer personalized treatment based on a patient’s genes.

Personalized medicine is often defined as “the right treatment for the right person at the right time.” While already being considered in drug development strategies, it is still at an early stage with respect to clinical applications that support patient-specific therapy. As the push towards personalization and precision medicine continues to build, genetic testing will play a greater role in day-to-day interactions between physicians and patients.

To achieve this goal of propagating precision medicine, we need to overcome current limitations like clinical use, cost, and understanding of the value of genotyping.  Scientific and technological advancements in human genetics will pave the way for this personal knowledge and consequential lifestyle changes to happen for the broader population.

Some of the changes brought about by technology that can be envisioned for the near future are-

  • Researchers Nigam Shaw and Russ Altman have been able to use data mining to identify the potential rare side effects of specific treatments and divide the population into those at risk of experiencing those side effects and those safe from said side effects. By understanding how a person will react to a particular therapy, researchers will be able to develop better targeted and effective treatment options and physicians will be able to prescribe those treatments more accurately. 
  •  Obtaining sequencing data has gotten faster and less expensive, but hold-ups exist not just in regulatory processes but also in correlating the DNA sequence with clinical outcomes.  Major companies involved in sequencing technologies are offering data analysis and data storage cloud services in addition to just the instrumentation. New technologies to break this glass ceiling in analysis and to drive clinical utility of additional genes will be crucial in overcoming this problem.
  •  Personalized medicine would require devices and sensors for physicians to monitor the conditions of their patients and modify the treatment as needed. Today’s sensors have managed to be functional at a considerably small size but advances in nanotechnology could shrink sensors enough to make them suitable for implantation in the body. Imagine a day in which levels of specific compounds in blood could be measured effortlessly; biomarkers of response to the prescribed treatments could be continuously monitored via minuscule sensors which would alert physicians if specified border levels were reached.
  •  3D printing in the field of medicine! While initially 3-D tissue prints will be used as models for drug action and safety, many believe that in 10-15 years it may enable tissue and organ (re-)construction from cells harvested from the patient, thus providing custom and personalized organs on demand with no issues of compatibility.
  • It would be ideal if doctors could just tap into a single, large database filled with anonymous genetic information — biomarkers tied to patient statistics tied to specific drugs and treatments — to help them make more informed, accurate decisions about each individual’s medical path. Getting there is going to be a long and bumpy ride, with plenty of wrong turns and backtracking along the way.

The progress in technology over the last few decades has been phenomenal. Its applications in various fields have been multiple dreams come true. It would not then, be too outrageous to believe that the predictable future of healthcare- personalized medicine, would arrive soon assisted by rapidly developing technology.


What Is Personalized Medicine?


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