The future for Personalised Medicine
You may have heard about personalised medicine as it is up and coming, but what actually is it? Well, simply put, it is tailored medicine to meet the individual patients needs and is specific to that patient, and this is all thanks to research into genetics. Whole genome sequencing has allowed for us to understand what is going on for that one patient, as opposed to multiple generic tests. Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical companies are working towards better treatments to achieve the best outcome. Whilst the concept is not new, and clinicians have been researching for years and years, but the biggest leap has been the ability to identify who is at greatest risk and predicting how each individuals bodies will respond to treatment. And this is amazing. New possibilities are sparking, due to convergence of various research departments. What a time to be in research and development!
Taking what has been learnt from the human genome studies, and placing it into oncology research, this has led to life-changing outcomes for cancer treatment and patients. In each of our thirty trillion cells we have our DNA, cancer occurs when multiple mutations occur leading to disruption in our DNA. Such genetic changes can either be inherited or acquired later on in our lives. Mutations can occur due to exposure to radiation, oxidising agents, carcinogens, UV light and more. Our cells are equipped to deal with DNA damage and correct it, hence why cancers in younger people are less common. As we age, we start to develop more and more mutations. Cancer forms when cells lose the ability to function normally, and the cells start to divide uncontrollably. Together, the cancer cells form a tumour. Next generation sequencing is used by doctors to read the DNA sequence of a tumour to see where genetic changes have occurred. So not only do we know where the cancer is, but we know what the genetic changes are, and what they do. Knowing this, personalised medicines could be developed for a patient’s cancer. There even is the potential to target those specific DNA changes with certain drugs. The beauty of next generation sequencing is how fast, accurate and vast it is. It allows for analysis of large quantities of data at once. The term ‘tumour profiling’ is used to describe the genome profile of cancer patients, looking at their specific mutations. Picture this, if you can see what mutations have occurred, and what ones have played a role in the development of a tumour… That is truly remarkable.
And personalised medicine doesn’t just apply to cancer, there is hope for all sorts of diseases! Moving away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach, we could be seeing even the most aggressive of illnesses being treated and managed highly successfully.