Genetics is the study of genes, heredity, and gene variations in organisms. Genes refer to the basic functional unit of heredity. They are responsible for the inheritance of traits from parents to offspring. Since genes make up the body’s blueprint and functions, genetics has become of major importance in the effectiveness of medical diagnosis. Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that considers individual variability in environment, lifestyle, and, most especially, genes to accurately diagnose each person. The future of accurate medical diagnosis will be informed by the role of genetics in precision medicine.
Over the years, medicine has been studied primarily in relation to the concerns of the majority. Disease treatment and prevention methods were developed for the average person in society, with little to no consideration for the difference in variables of each individual. Though advances continue to be made through the one-size-fits-all technique, precision medicine, as the term implies, encourages particularity in diagnosis by closely examining factors of a person’s biological makeup.
While many diseases can be credited to environment and lifestyle, medical investigation estimates that genetic diseases occur in ten percent of all adults and cause thirty percent of pediatric hospital admissions. Some of the prevalent diseases that are largely credited to genes include cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Although precision medicine takes into account the individual variability to help diagnose patients, it should not be mistaken that these treatments are uniquely tailored to one person. It is impossible to carry out an in-depth study on every patient to provide a completely accurate diagnosis. Instead, precision medicine studies these variables in smaller groups of people with similar biological makeup to predict which treatment and prevention methods for a particular disease would work in specific groups of people.
As the concept of precision medicine is gaining ground, it has given rise to pharmacogenomics. Pharmacogenomics refers to the study of how genes influence a person’s response to drugs. This is a relatively new field that combines pharmacology, the science of drugs, and genomics, the study of genes and their interactions with one another. Pharmacogenomics plays two essential roles in precision medicine. The first is that it helps pharmaceutical companies in drug discovery and development. The second is that it guides doctors in prescribing the right drugs for patients based on their genetic makeup, maximizing the effect and efficiency of treatment.
Precision medicine is a concept still under major research. Despite that, there are some benefits that many people look forward to having after the study. One such benefit is a better understanding of genetically influenced diseases and how to prevent them from being inherited. Another benefit is accurate diagnosis and effective treatment that would lead to a better standard of living for people in society. Countries like the United States, England, and China are at the forefront of this research. In the United States, the precision medicine initiative began in 2015 to gather a million genomic sequences for research. Currently, the number gathered is at about 300,000. However, a few concerns come with the many benefits of precision medicine. One of the most prominent concerns is that this medical knowledge may only benefit those in developed countries.