Posts Tagged ‘Personalized Medicine’

By Sandeep Sehgal

Active research in genomics and proteomics over the last decade has opened many opportunities and innovative approaches in healthcare. Genomics is the study of the entire DNA sequence of organisms. Proteomics is the study of proteins with a focus on structure and function.

Personalized medicine is an area gaining attention and showing promising results. Personalized medicine differs from traditional medicine in that it accounts for race, lifestyle, gender and other individual characteristics in order to provide customized care. This medical approach lowers costs by eliminating the high costs of trial-and-error, reducing adverse drug reactions, and improving drug efficacy by only performing treatments that are predicted genetically to be effective.

According to The Jackson Laboratory, the initial benefits already being observed are just the tip of the iceberg. Researchers at this centre have already seen advancements in treating blood clots, colorectal cancer and breast cancer. British Columbia geneticists are using personalized medicine from a different perspective. They are pursuing the use of blood testing instead of a painful biopsy procedure in predicting organ transplant rejection.

Personalized medicine has also created avenues for new technologies. An important technology is gene sequencing. In order for personalized medicine to be effective, the genetic markers of the disease must be identified and compared to the individual. For instance, in colon cancer patients, the most common treatment used is ineffective in 40% of patients. By using gene sequencing in this case, one can save time and money through the elimination of trial-and-error which is common in traditional medicine. In addition, the cost of gene sequencing continues to decrease from $3 billion from the Human Genome Project to $1,000 in the next 6 years, making it more accessible to all.

Although it is difficult to predict the outcome of personalized medicine, the results of this approach have certainly impressed researchers, doctors and patients alike. As more research continues, the applications of personalized medicine will grow and thus transform healthcare.

Sandeep Sehgal is completing an Honours Bachelor of Science degree at University of Toronto Mississauga. She is currently utilizing her skills and knowledge of biotechnology issues as a bio-business intern at the RIC Centre. Upon graduation, she hopes to seek opportunities in R&D for a pharmaceutical company.

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Re-posted from the Cross-Border Biotech Blog

By Jeremy Grushcow

A report in FierceBiotech recently distilled the views of three life science VCs on trends to watch in 2010.  Along with other worthwhile observations (and I’d encourage you to read the whole thing) was this bullet pointing out the value of personalized medicine in addressing comparative effectiveness concerns:

“Interest in molecular diagnostics is heating up. It’s one of the most attractive areas because physicians are increasingly demanding test that can tell them which treatments have the best chance of working before expensive medicines are issued. And diagnostics fit well with the healthcare reform efforts. Bloch adds that any technology that improves the efficacy of how care is delivered will be attractive to investors.”

The business case is eminently obvious.  Last week AstraZeneca announced a collaboration with Dako Denmark A/S that will see Dako developing companion diagnostics for products in AstraZeneca’s oncology pipeline.  Key quotes from the announcement highlight the companies’ focus on “health care costs” and “reimbursable products”:

“Targeted treatment with personalized medicine is the future, and … is also a significant contributive factor in cutting health care costs” (Dako CEO)

“This agreement … will enable us to develop novel, reimbursable products that … predict which patients are most likely to respond to treatment, ensuring that we are giving the right treatment, to the right patient, the first time.” (AZ Head of Oncology Development)

The economic case for personalized medicine was one of this blog’s top biotech trends in 2009 and it looks to continue at a strong pace through 2010.  To reach its full potential, though, the industry will have to convince policy makers and clinicians that personalized medicine can live up to its promise.

Jeremy Grushcow  is a Foreign Legal Consultant practising corporate law at Ogilvy Renault LLP. He has a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology. His practice focuses on life science and technology companies.

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