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Breakthroughs in Clinical Diagnostics Create New Opportunities for Precision Medicine

by editor

Precision medicine, a relatively new approach in modern healthcare industry, which combines biological research, genetic data and advanced technology to help doctors create individualized treatment plans and medical advice based on each patient’s genetic background, environment and lifestyle. The key drivers making such a precision approach to healthcare possible are the exciting breakthroughs in clinical diagnostics.

Pharmacogenomics Enables Data-Driven Medication Plans

With the rise of pharmacogenomics, a new research field that uses genetic data to predict drug response, doctors won’t have to guess and tinker until they find the right drug and dosage. Now, clinicians can make data-driven decisions based on a patients’ genetics, medical history and lifestyle to select the drug that will provide the greatest benefit with the least severe side effects for that particular patient.

On the research side, pharmacogenomics enables the development of new medications based on these insights. One of the most significant milestones to date is a breakthrough in clinical understanding of opioid metabolization. Doctors have long known that patients respond differently to pain medications, which makes administering the correct dose of anesthesia before surgery or prescribing safe doses of pain medication during recovery difficult.

The discovery of the CYP2D6 enzyme has helped address this problem. Certain opioids are broken down by this particular enzyme in the body. However, some patients, especially those with a European background, have poor CYP2D6 metabolizers while others have especially rapid metabolizers.

For those patients with poor metabolizers, standard doses of these opioids won’t provide the same level of pain relief as they do for patients with better metabolizers. For patients with rapid CYP2D6 metabolizers, standard doses could be excessive, creating the potential for unwanted side effects. Armed with this information, doctors can now better predict how a particular patient will respond and what dose to administer.

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