Precision medicine is an approach to medical care that uses individualised information about a person's genes, environment, and lifestyle to prevent, diagnose, and treat disease. It is a rapidly growing field that has the potential to revolutionise the way we think about health and healthcare.
Ahead of the launch of Life Sciences Hub Wales’ Precision Medicine Challenges, we’ve set out a brief history of precision medicine and its prospects. This blog also looks at how precision medicine is changing the payment structure for pharmaceutical companies and the impact of genomics on this field. Finally, we will explore some of the health and economic benefits of precision medicine.
The challenges faced by health services today are becoming more and more complex. At the same time, our knowledge of human biology has increased exponentially in recent years. In response to this, a new approach to medicine has emerged: precision medicine.
What do we mean by precision medicine?
Precision medicine is an emerging medical model that considers the individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle of each person. Instead of relying on generic medicinals, which are often effective in only 30-50% of patients, precision medicine uses advanced diagnostics to identify the specific cause of a person's condition. This information is then used to develop targeted, bespoke treatments that are much more effective. In addition to developing bespoke treatments, precision medicine also has the potential to radically improve preventative medicine. By identifying the specific genetic, environmental, and lifestyle causes of a person's condition, it may be possible to prevent the condition from ever developing.
Although arguably still in its early stages, precision medicine is already having a profound impact on the life science landscape. It is changing the way that pharmaceutical companies develop and market new drugs because of factors like having to pay for expensive advanced therapies with smaller patient demographics.
The impact of precision medicine
As precision medicine becomes more widespread, it is likely to have a significant effect on healthcare costs. In the short-term, it may drive up healthcare costs because of the expense of genomic sequencing and other required tests. However, in the long term, there is potential for large cost savings by preventing or delaying the onset of diseases that currently have a high economic burden on the healthcare system.
As well as changing how we treat disease, precision medicine is also impacting how we think about health and disease prevention. In the future, genomics and other precision medicine tools will allow us to identify individuals at risk for diseases before they ever develop symptoms. This knowledge will help us develop targeted interventions to prevent or avoid disease - supporting a value-based approach to healthcare.
While there are many potential benefits of precision medicine, we must also be aware of the challenges involved in its implementation. This includes the need for large-scale datasets to train predictive models, a lack of standardisation across different platforms and systems and ethical considerations such as data privacy.
The Welsh perspective
The precision medicine sector in Wales is rapidly growing and already hosts several world-leading companies and academic teams. To make the most of this, we need to ensure that our workforce has the necessary skills and training. We also need to create an environment that is conducive to innovation and investment.
Welsh Government is committed to supporting the development of precision medicine in Wales and our organisation is working closely with key stakeholders to develop a coherent approach to understanding Wales’s precision medicine priorities. This includes exploring opportunities in genomics and early diagnostics, as well as supporting the development of advanced therapies.
Precision medicine has the potential to bring significant health and economic benefits to Wales. We are committed to working with our partners across government, academia, and industry to realise this potential.
Help us realise the potential of precision medicine
Life Sciences Hub Wales is launching a series of challenges for specific precision medicine priorities that need to be addressed in Wales over the next 12 months. Join us for our upcoming event on 16 June to hear from speakers including Dr Sian Morgan (All Wales Medical Genomes Service), Dr Tom Wilkinson (Swansea University), and Dr Jonathan Morgan (Medicines Discovery Catapult) discussing precision medicine in Wales and how we can find solutions for challenges. Sign up for the event and learn more about on our registration page.
What do you think about precision medicine or priorities for enhancing the sector in Wales? If you’d like to share your thoughts and guest author a blog about precision medicine then contacting email@example.com.