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How Important is Genomics for Precision Medicine? Fighting Cancer and the Future of Genomics

Clinical genomics in precision medicine is transforming the way we think about healthcare systems. Currently, the most common approaches are used to enhance diagnosis and patient care in medical genetics and cancer. 

It is critical to integrate clinical genomics into ordinary medical practice to improve public health. For example, professionals need to have the ability to recommend individualized therapy based on an individual’s genetic information and their understanding of their unique conditions. 

Clinical genomics should be used in all stages of cancer treatment, including diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring, to improve patient care.

But how is genomics currently used to fight off deadly cancers and what does the future hold for genomics in precision medicine?

Targeting Mutant Cancers

A man looks though a microscope at a specimen to better precision medicine.
Studying genetic mutations on a broader scale creates different approaches to battling deadly cancers.

The most common forms of breast cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2, are human tumor suppressor genes when functioning normally. However, when there is a mutation on one or both of these genes, individuals are at risk of developing various types of cancer, including breast, prostate, ovarian, fallopian tube, and pancreatic. 

While these mutations are responsible for the increased risk of developing these cancers, they can also predict which treatment approach will be the most effective for the patient. 

For example, a defect in the BRCA genes may also increase stress on other DNA repair pathways that the body relies upon. This increased reliance on different repair pathways creates an alternative route for clinicians to focus their therapeutic treatments. As a result, clinicians might use PARP inhibitors to kill the growing cancer cells. 

By studying specific gene mutations and their effects on the body as a whole, researchers can create treatments such as using PARP inhibitors to treat deadly cancers. Pancreatic cancer has a survival rate of just 9%; however, emerging studies into therapeutic treatments based on genetics could be the best approach to treating aggressive and deadly cancers. 

What does the future hold for genomics in medicine?

A researcher looks a spliced dna samples in order to create precision medicine.
Researchers hope to use clinical genomics to create noninvasive tests and more personalized treatment options.

Genomics and genomic medicine are fundamentally changing the way clinicians view and understand diseases. Advances in sequencing, automated sample processing, and data analysis have accelerated insights into the many factors that cause deadly disorders. 

Researchers can now pinpoint genomic variants in large populations that are relatively low-frequency yet high-impact. By pairing these findings to clinical research on disease progression and severity, researchers can discover and validate new drug treatments. This validation has led to a new era of personalized, precision healthcare. 

Companies such as Genealogy, who offer affordable whole-genome sequencing, visualize two primary roles for their technology in the future: 

  • Noninvasive screening tests for preventive care
  • Tests that improve diagnostic capability and create more personalized treatment options

Early genomic data would provide great insight into a patient’s future disease risks. It would also have a lasting impact on diverse fields, from cancer research to psychiatry. 

Hundreds of pipettes are being used to test the DNA of many patients used for precision medicine.
More affordable and widespread genetic testing will benefit diagnostic treatments for all.

While this feat might sound too good to be true, it can be achieved through more diverse data in genomic medicine. Currently, over 600,000 genomes have been collected as a part of the National Institute of Health’s “All of Us” campaign, but there is still a lot of work to be done. There must be a departure from the euro-centric data that has been collected in the past, and researchers must push for and demand more diverse datasets.

The global push towards precision medicine has poised genomics to add a layer of confidence to future diagnostic and clinical treatments. More affordable genetic testing available to the public means more personalized preventative care and less stress on the healthcare system overall. We are entering a new era where genomic medicine is no longer just a pipe dream but a reality for millions in need of quality precision healthcare. 

Conclusion

A researcher places a sample into a nanospectrometer to make precision medicine.
The next step for genomics is integrating research findings into clinical settings.

For almost a century, genotype-phenotype relationships have been a key concept in biology. Advances in nucleic acid sequencing technology have accelerated precision medicine, allowing us better to understand cancer, metabolic, and hereditary disorders. 

Precision medicine has been made possible by genomic technology and molecular diagnostics, driving healthcare evolution. These technologies will have a favorable influence on the healthcare continuum, from prevention to diagnosis and treatment. 

The next stage of precision medicine implementation is essential since these technologies must be incorporated into clinics and hospitals to direct healthcare decisions. Using AI technology and developing genomic processes will provide the most effective disease prevention and tailored treatment for individuals based on their genetic makeup.

If you would like to learn how your genes impact your health, click here.

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