Precision medicine in cancer

What is precision medicine?

Precision medicine is a new trend in current medicine for the treatment and prevention of diseases adapting to the individual, his genomics, his environment, his lifestyle. The concept is not new, but emerging technologies have allowed new approaches and opened new opportunities that are revolutionizing the field.

Why is it important?

Through precision medicine, the patient’s resistance or sensitivity to different treatments can be known. This information is an invaluable tool for the doctor when making decisions. For example in cancer, many times a treatment is applied to patients of the same type of cancer. Each patient reacts differently to treatment and it is only recently that we are understanding why. The same type of cancer (lung cancer for example) varies from patient to patient, having a different set of mutations; which can affect the reaction to treatment. Therefore cancer is really a set of different diseases at the genetic level, through elucidating their genetics, we can offer an effective treatment to each patient, knowing the mechanisms occurring at the biological level.

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What is phamacogenomics?

It is a field within precision medicine, which studies how genes affect a person’s response to medication. It is a recent field of study that combines pharmacology and genomics.

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Oncogenomics and precision medicine in cancer

Oncogenomics is a field in precision medicine that specializes in cancer-associated genes.

It is a field of great growth at research level for new solutions. This is because cancer is a genetic disease, and each tumor has particular mutations that can make it resistant or sensitive to different treatments, so the use of precision medicine tools has a lot of potential. In the case of breast cancer for example, it can be subdivided into different intrinsic biological subtypes, each with different prognoses, levels of aggressiveness and treatment options.

You can read more about what genomics is here.

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medicina precisión cáncer genoma infografía

What are the current challenges?

Being a new and growing field, much of the necessary technology is in development stages. One of the key factors is the collection of genomic data from a high quantity of individuals. Currently there are initiatives to carry out this collection in the order of millions of genomes. However, the amount of data is not the only problem. Another challenge is how to store this information in an efficient way, as well as the standardization of information so that it can be accessed easily and compatible between different sources. Likewise, the issue of privacy, confidentiality and accessibility of the data belonging to a person arises.

Another crucial phase is that precision medicine is not yet part of the standard medical service. High associated costs, as well as lack of specialized training are still a barrier to the spread of this technology.