You may have heard of personalized medicine. It’s a new wave of healthcare that aims to provide individualized treatment to patients based on their own genetic makeup.
The two most notable advances in personalized medicine are cell therapy and gene therapy.
In 2017 the very first cell/gene therapy was approved in the United States and progress has only accelerated since then.
Cell therapies work to improve the bodies immune system. The patient’s own cells are modified and then re-injected. After the procedure, the cells are able to more aggressively attack the disease. This is most commonly used for cancer treatment.
Gene therapies, like the name implies, involves the modifications of a patient’s genes. A normal gene replaces the abnormal gene causing the disease. Gene therapies have the potential to completely cure a patient of their condition.
Incredibly, gene therapy is usually only a one time treatment.
The Human Genome Project in 2003 mapped out the human genome. This project illuminated the responsibilities of individual genes.
Thankfully, as the study of genes has developed, the cost to map an individual’s genome sequence has dropped. This makes investment in potential treatments related to genes a more feasible option for healthcare companies.
In 2012, the 100,000 Genomes Project was established in the UK. This database included both genetic data and full medical records.
Novartis currently has a CAR-T cell therapy for leukemia. 13 more therapies are in development, 9 of which should enter clinical trials this year. Additionally, this company owns AveXis which successfully developed a gene therapy approved for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).
Roche is working to acquire the gene therapy developed for retinitis pigmentosa, which is currently owned by Spark.
Other companies are working to invest in the tools and programs necessary to continuing developing these therapies.
Researchers believe that personalized medicine is not just influencing our healthcare system physically but organizationally. Until recently, chronic illnesses could truly only be managed and that’s what healthcare systems were designed to do. But now, for more and more diseases, cures are becoming a potential reality.
You can read more about this changing field here.