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Treating Chronic Diseases

Precision Medicine in the country is considered to be at an early adoption stage. A diverse country like India, with over 4000 population groups, and a significant percentage of consanguineous marriages presents a high-risk and prevalence of inherited genetic disorders that require attention for early diagnosis, right treatment, and management. With 1.4 billion people, the absolute number of patients suffering from diseases in which genetics plays a role is significantly large.

Precision Medicine Changing Healthcare Sector

The crucial treatment decisions prior to the precision medicine era were based on one-size-fits-all guidelines. With the advent of precision medicine, treatment decisions are getting influenced and determined by understanding the relevant disease characteristics of the patients. Focusing on the patient “unique disease” principle is really changing the way the healthcare sector functions in the context of today’s scenario.

Benefits of Precision Medicine

The rapid identification of the right therapy would benefit the patient in the best possible manner. If efficacious treatment can be delivered earlier in the disease progression, it mitigates unwarranted side-effects. There are even economic benefits of the right treatment for the right patient at the right time. Other than cancer, precision medicine is also applied in diseases like diabetes, an autoimmune disease.

Scope Of Precision Medicine In India

There are significant differences in genomics or attributes of cancer patients across geographical regions. The implication of this is that therapies developed and tested in other countries could have different response rates in Indian patients.

Indian Council of Medical Research projects over 1.7 million new cancer cases per year. Genomics medicine to measure local population-specific tumor attributes is available. Hence there is a big need and scope for adopting precision medicine in India.

Latest Developments In The Area Of Precision Medicine

The latest developments in the area of precision medicine are treatment personalization and disease monitoring. The idea is to predict response to therapy for personalization by taking into account the patient’s disease attributes obtained from genomic medicine. Disease monitoring supports treatment personalization and adaptation by early detection and tracking disease response to treatment. This closed-loop of treatment personalization and monitoring is a new paradigm.

Precision Medicine Economical For Patients

The implication on the human and economic cost of a treatment gone wrong is large. In that context, adopting precision medicine is not only economical but also health economic benefits are there as well. Typical response rates of drug agents are 30% or less implying more than 7 out of 10 patients would get a treatment that is expensive and toxic but would not work. The rapid identification of the right therapy makes precision medicine economical.

Challenges Of In This Sector

For computationally predicting response to treatment and personalization – the data for defining patient tumor attributes is needed. One challenge is the consistent availability of accurate high-density information across patients. And the other challenge is the lack of standardized access to this data from electronic medical records. Because of these challenges, the operationalization of precision medicine in a one-click workflow is work-in-progress.