Pharmaceutical and biotech companies are turning to the future of personalized medicine – the personalized treatment and diagnosis of disease. In the past, a “one size fits all” approach to medicine hasn’t been the best solution. Scientific research didn’t take into account the influence of genes on an individual’s health and well-being. Personalized medicine has the potential to vastly improve the way healthcare issues are managed, especially concerning the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
Pharmaceutical consultants state that personalized medicine offers three main benefits:
• Improved diagnosis and early detection of disease
• Efficient drug development
• Accurate, cost-effective therapies
Pharmaceutical and biotech companies play significant roles in personalized medicine (or pharmacogenomics). Pharmacogenomics is the study of how a person reacts to medication based on their individual genetic background.
Personalized medicine is a collaborative effort amongst government and international agencies such as the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) and NIH (National Institute of Health). Drug and genetic test manufacturers and health care providers also need to work together to implement tests and therapies.
One of the biggest leaders fighting the personalized medicine cause is SAEC (Serious Adverse Events Consortium). Along with the FDA, SAEC unites government agencies, academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies. Their mission is to validate DNA-variants (which is useful in predicting risks associated with drug-related adverse events). Their collective research focuses on the impact that genes have on people’s response to medication.
Pharmacogenomics paves the way for the development of life-saving drugs. By determining biomarkers, pharmaceutical and biotech companies identify new disease subgroups and design drugs to target these new subgroups. This personalized medicine approach includes genetic screening programs which properly diagnose specific diseases.
This screening process is also vital for doctors when choosing proper medication/dosage for patients. Doctors and patients work together to better treat and manage disease. Some patients may experience adverse reactions to medication due to their genetic variation (which could cause serious side effects). However, a patient with a different variation may not experience any side effects.
Personalized medicine analyzes natural variations in people – their dietary/lifestyle habits, environmental factors, stress levels and their DNA make-up. These factors play vital roles in analyzing people’s health, and determining if they are more susceptible to disease. For example, natural variations in genes make certain people pre-disposed to certain types of cancer.
Molecular analysis also determines which medication works best to treat early stages of certain cancers (such as breast and colon cancers). For patients who are predisposed to these cancers, doctors can assist patients with lifestyle/health changes to reduce their cancer risk.
Pharmaceutical and biotech companies spend years and billions of dollars on R&D before drugs hit the market. Pharmacogenomics not only saves these companies money, but they help these companies better focus on their R&D.
If these companies know a person has a genetic variation towards a drug that gives them an adverse reaction, they are excluded from clinical trials. This not only targets patients who can be really helped by the drug, but it also speeds up the clinical trial process. Any pharmaceutical consultant will agree that, as a result, the pharmaceutical industry plays an integral role in the future of personalized medicine.
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