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Why Biotech students should consider learning about Personalised Medicine

Posted on Monday, June 10, 2019

Though an emerging field, personalised medicine not only reduces the adverse side effects but also provides risk assessment and ensures better treatment, writes Vinayak Gupta

A lot of breakthroughs in genomic technologies in last two decades have brought a revolution in healthcare sector and ultimately reduced the disease burden world-wide. Personalised medicine is such an emerging concept of genomics where medicines are prescribed based on molecular profiling, genetic and environmental/other factors such as gender, age and other medications in use. In contrast, traditional medical interventions are based on the idea of ‘one-size-fits-all’ formula and secondly on trial-and-error basis. Moreover, it has been seen by medical professionals that a medicine works very effectively in one patient, but the same medicine does not prove good for another patient having the same disease. Even in some patients, the same drug leads to adverse side effects. This is because most of the drugs are effective only in the presence or absence of certain mutations in drug targets. Hence, it is important to tailor the medical treatment according to individual genomic profiles. 

Tailoring of medical intervention is possible because entire genome sequence of an individual can be stored on a chip, so that a medical officer can go through and investigate the root cause of the disease and prescribe a precise prognosis. Thus, personalised medicine not only reduces the adverse side effects, but also provides risk assessment and ensures better treatment. The personalised medicine approach works well on chronic diseases like cancer, cardiovascular or cardiometabolic disorders etc.

Researchers often conduct genome-wide association study (GWAS) to find novel genes and to know the association of mutation to a specific disease. Later on, these mutations which are related to a disease by GWAS studies can be used to diagnose that disease and help the medical practitioner to decide the best personalised therapy. There are several companies or startups focussed on personalised medicine such as Positive Bioscience and Medanta - The Medicity, Xcode Lifesciences, Global Gene Corp, MedGenome etc to improve the quality of life. There is a need for skilled workforce to implement the concept of personalised medicine in healthcare. 

In this direction, medical biotechnology is one of the major thrust areas in the Department of Biotechnology at Bennett University (BU). The Department has come up with a curriculum to build professional competencies among BTech (Biotech) students through experiential learning in high-end genomic technologies.

(The author is assistant professor, Department of Biotechnology, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Bennett University)
 

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