It is becoming increasingly clear that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to treatments, diagnosis, and medicine, in general, is no longer adequate.
As mirrored in the statistics, the global personalized medicine market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6.95% from 2022 to 2030. From genes to habits or the environment, these are all factors that impact your health and that personalized or precision medicine takes into account. Instead of offering the same treatment or care to everyone, healthcare providers tailor treatments to the individual needs and attributes of each patient. Moreover, from determining whether an individual will develop an illness in the future to assessing whether the treatment will be effective, personalized medicine enables doctors to, overall, predict medical outcomes more accurately.
However, while state-of-the-art personalized medicine represents an advancement, there is still much progress to be made with both its advantages and disadvantages needing to be assessed continuously in order to drive that progress further.
One of the main advantages of personalized medicine is the decrease in general healthcare costs. Firstly, by shifting the focus from reaction to prevention, more expensive and urgent procedures are avoided. Secondly, by prescribing the right treatment, hospitalizations for adverse drug reactions, reactive treatments, or long-lasting trial-and-error phases are minimized.
Besides, by shifting the focus from reaction to prevention, ‘from disease to wellness’, there will be an increase in productivity as fewer people will take sick leaves due to increased precautionary measures.
Another advantage of personalized medicine is the reduction of trial-and-error treatments. Before finding a suitable treatment for them, patients used to have to try multiple treatments, some of them even resulting in negative side effects. For instance, two diabetes patients may be the same age, have the same body max index and Hemoglobin A1c, and experience the disease for the same period, and they may still have different responses to the same treatment. However, when physicians have access to information about the patients’ genetic makeup, they can tailor the treatment to their needs. Not only is there time saved and adverse effects avoided but resources are also spared as no ineffective treatments are utilized.
While a noted advantage of personalized medicine is the reduction of trial-and-error periods in treatments, there are still problems that arise during the development of the drug process. Some of these disadvantages stem from the fact that current technologies often do not consider the natural environment in which a drug has its utmost beneficial effect. The target is normally removed from its natural environment because of concerns about the drug’s mode of action, which results in the loss of essential data, and influences the development of the drug. These shortcomings, however, can be avoided through technologies using human samples as the analysis substrate.
With a patient-centric approach, understanding the Mode of Action (MoA) of the patient’s compound becomes easier as it becomes possible to find the differences between individuals who are on the same treatment, at a molecular level. This is why it is essential to focus not only on the pathology but also on the ‘clinical reality’ in which the patient is treated during the beginning stage of the drug development process.
Modern technologies such as NPOT(R)have had a positive impact on identifying the compound’s mode of action. By identifying all the proteins involved in drug-target interactions, as well as their native structures, it becomes possible to pinpoint biomarkers associated with a disease or drug candidates while also making it easier to understand how diseases work, the mechanism of action of drug candidates, and how side effects arise.
In general, target deconvolution methods do not consider a drug’s physiological environment resulting in the hampering of the development of highly effective molecules. That becomes evident in the loss of crucial information in the structure of the therapeutic target’s structure. These losses affect the study’s validity as they are crucial for understanding the mechanisms of disease, analyzing the efficacy of structure-activity relationship studies, and researching side effects and target-specific toxicity.
Moreover, a solution to genetic profiling is the deciphering of the responder from the non-responder based on the functional pathway independent of genetics. Due to the approach being mechanistic instead of descriptive, so being based on proven causality instead of correlation, the results have a higher clinical relevance.
Fundamentally, personalized medicine would eliminate costs. However, in order to get to that point, massive expenditure is necessary. From investing in new technologies and research to funding the collecting, storing, and protecting of the required information, these are only a few of the expenses that need to be considered.
Personalized medicine is by no means faultless. Still, while there may be more research to be done and more resources to be invested, the efforts that are implemented now into personalized medicine will result not only in reduced healthcare costs but also in the improved overall health of the population. So, in a way, it’s not so much about the disadvantages of this person-centered medicine, but about the challenges that need to be overcome so that the therapeutic effects of drugs are enhanced and the duration of diseases is shortened. By moving away from state-of-the-art personalized medicine and incorporating the natural environment in which a drug is beneficial into our research, we are improving the efficiency of today’s and tomorrow’s therapy.
Editor’s Note: Dr Eftekhari is a life sciences entrepreneur with extensive world-class knowledge in drug development. He has more than fifteen years combined academic and industrial experience in pharmacology. Prior to founding Inoviem Scientific, Dr Eftekhari co-founded two other companies offering tailored drug development services. The partnerships he has built with pharmaceutical companies and academic laboratories at an international level have given him an in-depth understanding of the pharmaceutical industry’s needs. He holds a PhD in biology, with a major in pharmacology, from the Louis Pasteur University, Strasbourg.