Recently, the term “personalized medicine” has gained popularity; hence you may have some ideas about it. Personalized treatment focuses on your genetic makeup and your particular illness. Genes act like a blueprint of life and contain all the information to carry every bodily process. It guides the cells on how to grow and divide. Specific genes are said to be linked to many cancers. This type of treatment targeting specific genes is “precision medicine”.
Personalized cancer medicine is based on studying human genes and genes for various types of cancer. Researchers study the genes linked to cancer. They later use their findings to develop better and more effective medicines and treatments. They also used such information to find more efficient ways to detect and prevent cancer.
One of the plus points of personalised cancer treatments is that they have fewer side effects than other treatments. It may be because it is tailor-made to treat the diseases. The negative impact on healthy cells is less in this treatment while the cells involved in cancer are the target.
What is Precision Oncology?
According to the Precision Medicine Initiative, Precision Medicine is a new approach to treating and preventing illness that considers individual differences in individual genes, environment, and lifestyle. Of course, doctors have adjusted recommendations over the years based on individual factors such as age and gender, preferences of the patient, mobility levels, community resources, medical history, and other conditions.
The difference between traditionally sensitive assessments of complex situations and precision medicine is data for making decisions about specific treatment routes that may be more or less effective for the individual. Genomic data is a relatively new tool for any oncologist, and researchers have barely scratched the surface of innovative insights that our genetic information might wield.
Genetic testing is slowly becoming faster and cheaper, allowing researchers to collect more data from a more diverse genome pool of patients.
By integrating this data with various clinical, social, and economic data and applying analysis to all this information, we can observe efficacy patterns for specific treatments and correlate them with success or failure. You can identify possible genetic mutations linked to these data.
We can conduct clinical trials to verify these hypotheses. If the results meet strict scientific standards, we can support future best practices, clinical guidelines for managing specific conditions, and treatment decision support systems.
How are personalised treatments different?
It seems evident that the people with same cancer receive the same treatment. But doctors found that the treatments work better for some people than others. This is how we got personalized treatment. After becoming aware of this, researchers began to uncover genetic differences between people and their cancers. These differences can explain why some cancers respond better to cancer treatment while others do not.
Today, you can still get Today, you can still get the standard treatment based on your type and stage of cancer. But your doctor may personalize your treatment after knowing your genetic makeup based on the genes linked to cancer. It is how personalized treatment works. First, personalized medicine can be performed in a clinical trial. A clinical trial requires people to volunteer.
Our genes can Our genes can affect our response to any drugs or medicine. Researchers conduct studies to study the reaction of our genes to specific genes. This is pharmacological genomics. Since our genes can affect the drugs, it is crucial to know how they can change things. It determines the efficiency of any drug and also its safety.
For exaFor example, some people process certain medicines faster than others. In other words, it goes out of your body quickly. This means that, unlike most people, such individuals need higher doses for the drug to work. On the other hand, one may process the medicines slower than the rest. This means that the drug lingers in your system longer than usual. So, the side effects will be more pronounced, and you will need lower doses.
Future of personalised treatments
Personalised cancer medicine promises to increase the efficiency of cancer treatments and reduce the side effects. But we need to overcome some obstacles. These include:
- All types and subtypes of cancer do not have personalised treatments
- You may have to opt for clinical trials to avail some of the personalised treatments
- Even though genetic testing has become cheaper, it can still be tough on your pockets. Not all insurance plans will pay for your genetic testing. Apart from these, genetic testing is a time taking process. It will take some time to process the genes of your tumour which means you have to wait longer for your treatment to begin.
- Not all personalised treatments are affordable. A few of them can be expensive, for instance, targeted treatments.
Personalised treatment has only taken baby steps. Researchers need to learn a lot, like:
- A genetic mutation occurs in cancer cells.
- Mechanism of personalised cancer treatments.
- The reason why the targeted therapy suddenly stops working. Targeted therapy also comes under personalised cancer treatments.
Drawbacks of precision treatment in cancer
The information on the latest precision treatment might not be readily available and even limited. Research is still going on to know more about precision oncology and how it can help to treat cancer. Researchers conducted studies to find out all about it using lab and clinical trials.
Many clinical trials have taken place on patients with certain types and stages of cancer. However, to qualify for precision oncology clinical trials, a person must have a certain genetic mutation that the drug being tested can target. More than often, only the large medical care centers provide precision medical clinical trials. So, it might be difficult for you to become a part of such clinical trials.
Precision oncology is not always available. Even if it is available outside the clinical trials, it might need more testing. We will understand this with an example. The family history of cancer in a patient may not be well known or evaluated. Alternatively, if genetic testing is done, its results may not be appropriate, or the results might not be used to make health decisions. Even if you are diagnosed with a type of cancer that could be genetically tested, you may not be able to test the tumour. You won’t be able to see if there are genetic mutations that might change your treatment options. The cost of genetic testing and medications recommended as a result of genetic testing can be problematic.