The potential benefits to personalised medicine likely to be offered in the near future by genomics are huge. But to start realising them, laboratories need to overcome the challenge of ‘big data’ which could stop them embracing these new technologies, says Emma Huntridge of Clinisys.
It is hard to overstate the exciting pace of evolution in human genomics, despite being one of the most complex fields in modern healthcare. The first human genome was sequenced as recently as 2001, with a projected cost of $3 billion (£2.8 billion) over 15 years.1 Today, genomic tests can be carried out in a matter of weeks or months and have broken through the much anticipated £1,000 ceiling – a critical threshold that has allowed DNA sequencing to move out of the research laboratory and to be deployed at a greater scale to improve all manner of clinical outcomes.
Indeed, genomics has real potential to usher in a new era of personalised medicine, improving patient outcomes with individual risk information about major life-threatening diseases such as cancer, heart disease and obesity, as well as propensity to having certain adverse drug reactions.
However, while this burgeoning field has traversed a pivotal tipping point, laboratories’ ability to decode the vast amounts of information being produced from sequencing DNA is still catching up. Realising the many benefits and applications of genomics, therefore, does not hinge on any new scientific breakthroughs; but rather on innovation in the systems and processes laboratories use to process genetic results and data.
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