The twenty-first century is the age of hyper-personalization. The one-size-fits-all paradigm is increasingly becoming passé. Be it in any sector, the biggest selling-point of products and services is invariably linked to the level of customization that they can be optimized to. This holds true when curating a preventive health check-up as well.
This shift has been made possible on account of advancements in technology and progress in science. Sectors such as ed-tech, agri-tech, banking, designing, etc. have already tended towards providing customized solutions. But when one talks about personalization in healthcare and medicine one tends to come up blank. How exactly does the concept of personalization pan out in this domain? Aren’t human beings, by virtue of belonging to the same species, supposed to react in a similar manner—if not the same—to medical care and treatment?
Pharmacogenomics is the scientific field that continues to engage with these questions and more. And in the process, it has yielded many interesting answers and observations. It turns out that humans do not respond to the same treatment in the same manner. The genomic variability among all humans sets each individual apart, along with their response to drugs. Hence, as far as the idea of personalized medicine goes, it opens a plethora of opportunities.
Unlocking understanding of drug efficacy via pharmacogenomics reports
No two people exhibit the same response to medicinal drugs. The efficacy of a drug on one person does not guarantee its success on another. Likewise, if one person does not develop complications to a particular treatment, it cannot be said with certainty that another person won’t either.
The risk of side effects, like every other factor, relies on the individual’s genotype. For instance, a patient might come down with hypoglycemia in response to diabetes medication like sulfonylureas. Risk of myalgia and myopathy may rise in some people taking anti-cholesterol medicines such as statins. Anti-platelet agents might cause some people to haemorrhage. The list is endless.
The reaction depends on the following three factors,
- A person’s Zygosity (if the mutation is only in one copy of the drug metabolizing/processing genes or both copies of the genes); i.e., how well their body can handle a medicine.
- Total number of healthy pharmacogenes (Genes responsible for medication metabolism) and their response.
- An individual’s likelihood of having side effects for important medicines – ranging from mild to severe.
Based on the person’s genotype and collective information from thousands of clinically significant studies (FDA, CPIC & PharmGkb approved biomarker evaluation) from across the world, drug response can be assessed to provide a “drug response status” when undergoing a preventive health check up. Here’s taking a closer look at the technique employed by K&H, the company that has pioneered the concept of curated medicine in India.
The next big step for humankind: Personalized medicine and preventive health check-up for all
K&H performs the WES (Whole Exome Sequencing) on the Next Generation Sequence (NGS) analyzer – Illumina’s NovaSeq 6000. The genomic data received is processed at its Bioinformatics department and VCF File is generated, which lays out all the patient-specific information. Hence, pharmacogenes (drug metabolizing genes)information is retrieved and analyzed by in-house algorithms. This report enables medical professionals to analyze whether a person is a “good responder” or a “poor responder” to various drugs.
The implications of this technology are obvious. Combining gene testing with traditional medicine unlocks the possibility of administering highly-personalized healthcare to people. Tech-led analysis of a person’s genome also allows medical professionals to provide them with preventive health check-up and calculate the risk factors of terminal diseases. Equipped with pharmacogenomics information, doctors can not only prevent adverse drug reactions but also ramp up the treatment’s success rate.
Check out K&H to know more about the avant-garde medical services they offer and to learn the secrets encoded in your genome.