Dr Jennifer Harris
Director of Research Policy, ABPI
What do we need to do to make precision medicine a reality?
Precision medicine uses knowledge of a person’s underlying biology — their own particular genetic and molecular makeup — to work out the best, most targeted way to prevent, diagnose and treat disease.
Genomics advancing care
Life sciences innovation is allowing us to understand and act on this knowledge. It is bringing advances in precision medicine that could transform the lives of patients and potentially offer cures.
One of these major advances has been in the field of genomics, in particular — genetic testing.
In the last few decades, technological advancements have meant the cost of sequencing a whole genome is driven down from £4 billion to below £1,000.1 The NHS Genomic Medicine Service across the four UK nations provides patients across the country with access to genetic tests. They support diagnosis and inform treatment decision-making for patients with cancer and rare diseases.
Finding suitable treatments
New genetic tests are being introduced every year, so it is vital that this resource keeps pace with these developments and that healthcare professionals and laboratory staff have the right training to deliver the service to patients.
Life sciences innovation is allowing us to understand and act on this knowledge.
Better access to genetic testing should also offer more patients the chance to take part in the research of new precision medicines, which require matching the right patient to the right clinical trial, relative to their genetic make-up.
To ensure patients don’t miss out on this potentially life-changing research, the UK must be able to set up clinical trials quickly and safely and drive wider use of biomarkers for patients.
Genetic data helps us understand the causes of disease and how to innovate the next generation of treatments.
To do this safely, trusted research environments can be set up to give scientists access to information, without the data ever leaving its secure storage location. The Government and the NHS need to continue to build trust with the patients and the public on the use of data for research and patient care.
Genomic technology is being adopted and applied across the globe at pace, and the ABPI is committed to working with system partners to drive forward these approaches for the benefit of all patients.