The Promise of Precision Medicine

Apr 01, 2016
Volume 25, Issue 4

Our health is a reflection of who we are and how we live. In an information age that allows freedom of choice and ubiquity of options, the rise of personalized care is inevitable. The promise of precision medicine not only offers a newfound science to treat life-threatening illnesses, but also realizes an ideal medical care approach, treating each person as a valued individual via pinpointed diagnostic assessments and optimized therapeutic interventions.

Technology continues to shape the way people live, with on-demand access to immense information and multi-channel communication. The scientific boom of gene sequencing is amplified by our ability to correlate genotype with phenotype and behavior, enabling rapid advances in disease diagnosis and treatment. 

A single, human, whole genome sequence often can generate 500 megabytes of raw data. It’s easy to see how this can quickly turn into petabytes of data with even a relatively small cohort of patients. Even then, more data will be added to the mix, as pathogenomics, proteomics, and metabolomics evolve. Researchers require high-performance tools to manage increasingly large, complex data sets to extract scientific intelligence from raw data.

The White House Precision Medicine Initiative’s Cancer MoonShot program migrates from the realm of fantasy, to distinct possibility, and perhaps, to reality through a merger of information technology and genetic science. To improve the lives of people with cancer and other life-threatening diseases, a set of key technology elements will be necessary to ensure success:

  • Collaboration between researchers and clinicians, aggregating data at the patient level in support of disease-oriented research cohorts.
  • A high-performance, technology infrastructure to enable rapid, accurate analysis of large volumes of data.
  • Structured data models to ensure consistency and reproducibility in results.
  • Scalability to ensure that knowledge generated through research can be applied broadly across the clinical setting, while longitudinally, clinical data continues to feed the research environment.

Ultimately, cancer therapy is only the beginning of the coming wave of the kinds of scientific advancements linked to genomics and accelerated by informatics. Every aspect of the human care spectrum offers areas of potential advancement, from birth and hereditary disorders, through wellness and pre-sickness, all the way to disease management. 

Today, only about 38% of consumers have heard of precision medicine, have only shallow knowledge about it and do not associate it with genetic medicine.In the end, the marker of success for precision medicine is that the term simply vanishes, and its principles become fundamental to modern medicine.

*PMC Survey: U.S. Public Opinion About Personalized Medicine, 2014, http://www.personalizedmedicinecoalition.org/Userfiles/PMC-Corporate/file/us_public_opinion_personalized_medicine.slides.pdf

 

 

Steve Rosenberg is Senior Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Health Sciences 

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