by Dr. Surendra K Chikara
Everyone’s DNA is as unique as their fingerprint. Information about a person’s genes, environment and lifestyle factors can be used to prevent or manage disease and this is usually referred to as precision medicine. This form of personalized healthcare has been around for a few years and has been increasingly gaining popularity. Thanks to the Human Genome Project (1990-2003) that sequenced around 20,000 genes and created a breakthrough in healthcare. We are now able to use genomics to predict, prevent and manage disease better than ever.
As of today, we are experiencing a revolutionary shift towards precision medicine. We can quickly sequence DNA at a large scale and help thousands of people manage and prevent disease. Genomics has been especially valuable for identifying rare genetic diseases that had previously taken years to diagnose, ending uncertainty and suffering for many people.
Genomic testing contributes to reduction in medical expenses
Genomic testing can help recognize what diseases people are at risk for so that they can take preventive steps or spot the disease at an early stage. When it comes to treatment, genomic testing can reveal genetic variations that can affect a person’s response to specific medications, thus saving time and money that might be wasted on experimenting with different medications. When people act on insights gained through genomic testing, they also save themselves from mental and emotional distress. They benefit from higher energy levels, improved mental and emotional health and better quality of life in general.
In addition to reducing the risk of disease, genomic testing can serve as a source of data. Many organizations are now investing time and money into building databases of genetic biomarkers for various chronic diseases, so they can be identified early. Such databases could deliver a definitive diagnosis in seconds which could significantly bring down treatment costs at a global level.
The use of genomics in the healthcare industry has given a new perspective on managing disease; people are now focused on preventing disease rather than curing it. There are numerous start-ups that are working on utilizing genomic testing to prevent disease by helping people find the root cause of their health issues.
D2C testing kits are opening the doors to personalized healthcare
At-home DNA tests are now easily available and accessible to people. These tests show risk for chronic diseases, response to different fitness routines, food sensitivities, and requirement for vitamins and supplements. Such information from targeted genomic testing can be used by people to achieve optimal health.
The need for preventive healthcare
A World Economic Forum study estimates that the global economic impact of cancer, diabetes, mental illness, heart disease, and respiratory disease could reach USD 47 trillion over the next 20 years. The increased demand on healthcare systems could be lessened through breakthroughs like genomic testing because they make it possible to prevent disease.The growing prevalence of chronic diseases and demand for personalized medicine have contributed to the precision medicine market size to grow from USD 8.2 billion to 16.4 billion by 2025.
The Pandemic further proved to be an eye-opener for many people, especially those with chronic diseases, since they were prone to a higher risk for catching the virus and developing complications. This highlighted the immense need for preventing such diseases in the first place and further emphasized the importance of the need for preventive healthcare in the country.
Preventive healthcare is the future
Genomics has created a shift in people’s mindset towards disease prevention. It has become increasingly clear in recent years that genomic testing and precision medicine is the wave of the future. Just like health insurance has now become commonplace in India, genomic testing would soon become the first line of defense against chronic disease. It is only a matter of time before genomic testing and thus precision medicine enters the mainstream of healthcare in India as well.
Dr. Surendra K Chikara – Founder & CEO – Bione
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