“Extensive collaboration between industry and key stakeholders (patient organizations, MDTs, laboratories, and payers) is essential to address the challenges in implementing precision medicine and enable more patients to receive potentially life-changing treatments.”
Fremont, CA: Precision medicine is a potent tool in the treatment of various types of cancers and rare diseases with its broad potential to improve clinical outcomes drastically. While significant progress has already been made in the precision treatment of these diseases, many patients have molecular drivers of the diseases that are not covered by detection, interpretation, or high-precision therapies, leaving potential life-changing therapies on the table.
Despite the growing scientific evidence, there are many obstacles to implementing deeper precision medicine approaches in practice. Extensive collaboration between industry and key stakeholders (patient organizations, MDTs, laboratories, and payers) is essential to address these challenges and enable more patients to receive potentially life-changing treatments.
For instance, one of the biggest hurdles for general oncologists is adhering to the latest guidelines for testing for different types of tumors. It has traditionally been believed that cancer patients do not wait to receive biomarker test results before starting treatment. For patients who require immediate initiation of treatment, the delay, which can take 2-4 weeks to achieve these results, is a stumbling block. However, healthcare professionals are told that some patients may wait to confirm that they will need test results to determine eligibility for treatment specifically designed to treat cancer.
However, removing this hurdle will require a joint effort to facilitate the implementation of system-wide biomarker testing protocols for specific types of tumors. Another possibility is to incorporate test results into electronic medical records so that healthcare professionals can easily access information when making treatment decisions. Finally, with the introduction of clinical decision support tools, healthcare professionals can be informed about biomarker tests based on the clinical situation of the patients they treat and specific tests and treatment options for each type of tumor to be treated.
Precision Medicine Opportunities for Rare Diseases:
The Personalized Medicine Coalition is a group that advocates for the greater adoption of precision medicine approaches, including some of today's most common cancers. The group evaluates how broadly these technologies can be integrated into healthcare systems to improve results. These efforts are also substantial in the targeted therapies for rare diseases caused by single genetic changes, which are rapidly increasing. Generally, solid cancer patients often consult multiple specialists for many years to get a diagnosis. This “diagnostic odyssey” is primarily due to low awareness of rare diseases among clinicians. In addition, these patients may have a number of nonspecific symptoms that further complicate the diagnosis. Meanwhile, precise medicine approaches while treating rare diseases can ensure timely diagnosis and optimal patient care in such cases.