The days of taking pills designed for a one-size-fits-all approach may soon be at an end. Here’s a look at the future of medicine.
Here’s a word you’ll likely being hearing a lot more; pharmacogenomics. So what does it mean? Essentially, it is tailoring a drug medicine to your particular genetics. This could be everything from cholesterol medications through to antidepressants or blood thinners. The word combines pharmaceuticals and genomics. In this fairly new field, doctors look at two main things; 1) how much of a drug is needed to hit the target in your body and 2) how well the targeted cells, such as heart tissue or neurons in your body will respond to a specific dosage.
While this has been in development for decades, the cost of sequencing a genome has been so high it wasn’t commercially viable at scale. With the advances in CRISPR technology, the costs have reduced dramatically. It may well be that in the future, your doctor will take a pin prick of blood from your thumb, put it on a slide and slip it into a machine and voila! There’s your genome all nicely sequenced. That’s a few years off, but it is happening.
Just this week, Green Shield Canada and HBM+, the health benefits management company it owns, announced successful trials of a pharmacogenomics-led treatment in patients with mental health conditions. In a single-blinded randomized control study that followed more than 200 patients with major mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. Outcomes for anxiety and disability were around two times greater than physician guided treatment and a 36% improvement for those suffering from depression.
If you might be asking what the benefit to the drug companies is, it’s cost-savings. Especially for long-term treatments and health benefit programs. The patient definitely benefits by having medications tailored to their body. So you might say it’s a win-win in this case. It is especially helpful for those with mental health issues as it can mean faster recovery and less switching of medications, which can hard on the body and the brain.
So perhaps a decade or two from now, you’re doctor will prescribe your exact dose for your genetic code. The pharmacy will “print” the pills for you right in the store using 3D printing technology and the raw ingredients from the pharmaceutical company.
More Insight: Check out this great article on if organic foods are better for you.
Author: Giles Crouch is the Group Publisher & COO for HUM@Nmedia, the parent brand for Silver Magazine and a digital anthropologist. He often writes about the intersection of humans and technology.