Personalized medicine may seem like a new field, but it’s been a long time coming. It’s forever been the dream of the healthcare industry to realize the potential of personal genomics, and biotech companies like IMCS are helping make that moonshot a reality.
The next frontier in personalized medicine is direct-to-consumer genetic testing. DTC-GT, as it’s called, has rocketed to the forefront of the public consciousness over the past decade, and its limitations are lessening every day. Here’s what direct-to-consumer DNA companies have the potential to provide to the field of personalized medicine.
Expanding the Range of Testing Services
Since the complete mapping of the human genome in 2003, over 1,800 disease genes have been discovered. DTC DNA companies offer consumers the potential to assess their genetic propensity for some of these diseases through low-cost, readily-available testing kits. In general, the kinds of tests currently available include those for disease susceptibility, assessment of individual traits, nutritional/metabolic assessment, and ancestry gene mapping. There are still myriad regulatory questions that remain unanswered regarding whether DTC genetic testing is, in fact, a “medical service.”
Informed Consumers are Proactive
DTC DNA testing has the potential to improve patient outcomes. How? By empowering informed, educated consumers with the genetic information about themselves they need to proactively take control of their own health. Consider, for example, an individual who understands their previously-unknown genetic risk for developing diabetes. Armed with that information, that individual can make better decisions regarding diet and exercise and talk to their physician about periodic specialized testing. In this way DTC genetic tests can create a more symbiotic relationship between doctor and patient.
Opportunity to Educate
One of the biggest opportunities – and limitations! – of personalized medicine lies within the education of the consumer. There are inherent risks in providing an undereducated consumer with potentially important genetic information then requiring they interpret the results themselves. Consumers are not doctors; it’s imperative that regulatory bodies, healthcare providers, and DTC genetic companies work together to create sustainable educational initiatives surrounding personalized medicine. Information is power...and in genetics, that power has yet to be fully realized. Solutions such as doctor-patient discussions, genetic counseling, and community-wide disease prevention programs may help.
Personalized medicine is one of the most exciting sectors of healthcare. At no time in history have humans been armed with as much valuable information about their own genetic makeup, and we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what DTC DNA testing might mean for consumers and for our collective future.
IMCS is proud to play a role in the advancement of genomics. We believe that healthcare is personal; our products help patients and their physicians create a unique treatment plan based specifically on the patient’s DNA. Isn’t that what personalized medicine is all about?