Precision medicine has emerged as a promising approach to providing personalised treatments for patients based on their genetic makeup, lifestyle, and environment. However, this approach requires vast amounts of data to be collected, analysed, and securely shared among healthcare providers and researchers.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology offer potential solutions to these challenges by enabling data-driven and secure decision-making. According to a recent report by Market.us, the global precision medicine market is projected to reach $254 billion by 2032, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.1% from 2023 to 2032.
This article will explore how AI and blockchain are transforming precision medicine and improving patient outcomes.
What Is Precision Medicine?
Precision medicine, or personalised medicine, is a healthcare approach that tailors medical treatments to individual patients based on their genetic information, environmental factors, lifestyle, and other personal characteristics. Unlike the traditional ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, precision medicine aims to provide targeted and effective treatments that can improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.
To achieve this, precision medicine requires vast amounts of data to be collected, analysed, and shared securely among healthcare providers and researchers. This is where AI and blockchain technology comes in. AI can analyse large datasets and identify patterns and correlations that human analysts may miss. At the same time, blockchain technology can provide a secure and transparent platform for sharing and accessing data.
AI can also help drug discovery by analysing large genomic, proteomic, and metabolomic data datasets to identify new drug targets and develop personalised treatments. For example, AI algorithms can analyse patients’ genomic data and predict their likelihood of responding to a particular drug or developing adverse effects.
What Is Blockchain?
Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that enables secure, transparent, and tamper-proof record-keeping of transactions and data. It uses cryptographic techniques to create an unalterable chain of blocks that contains a record of all transactions and data entered into the system. The chain is maintained by a network of nodes, each of which has a copy of the ledger, and any changes to the ledger must be validated and approved by the network.
Blockchain technology supports precision medicine in several ways.
Firstly, blockchain provides a secure and tamper-proof platform for storing and sharing patient data. In a traditional healthcare system, patient data is stored in a centralised database vulnerable to data breaches and hacking attacks. In contrast, blockchain technology uses a decentralised system, making it difficult for hackers to breach the system and steal sensitive patient information.
Furthermore, blockchain technology ensures the privacy and confidentiality of patient data by using cryptographic techniques to encrypt patient data. Patient data is stored in blocks linked together using cryptographic hashes, creating an unalterable and transparent ledger of patient data. Authorised parties can only access this ledger with the necessary permissions, and any changes made to the ledger are recorded and visible to all authorised parties.
Blockchain technology can also support clinical trials and drug discovery by providing a secure and transparent platform for sharing data among researchers and healthcare providers. Clinical trials often involve collecting large amounts of sensitive patient data, which researchers must share securely to ensure patient privacy and confidentiality. Blockchain technology can provide a secure and transparent platform for sharing data among researchers while ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of patient data.
Another advantage of using blockchain technology in precision medicine is the ability to create smart contracts. Smart contracts are self-executing contracts that use blockchain technology to automate the negotiation and execution of contractual terms. In precision medicine, smart contracts can be used to create agreements between patients, healthcare providers, and researchers that specify how patient data will be collected, analysed, and shared. The blockchain can automatically enforce these agreements, ensuring that all parties adhere to the agreed-upon terms.
Why Does Precision Medicine Need AI and Blockchain?
AI and blockchain technology each play a crucial role in enabling processes that enhance the effectiveness of precision medicine.
AI enables the analysis of large and complex datasets in a timely and efficient manner, identifying intricate patterns and correlations. With AI, healthcare providers and researchers can develop more accurate and personalised treatments based on a patient’s unique characteristics. However, without secure and transparent platforms for sharing data, the effectiveness of AI in precision medicine would be limited.
Understanding the Precision Medicine Sector
Several companies are leading the field in precision medicine, each with its own unique approach to this innovative field.
One example is 23andMe, a personal genomics and biotechnology company offering consumers genetic testing and analysis services. 23andMe provides insights into an individual’s ancestry, genetic health risks, and carrier status for certain inherited conditions. The company aims to empower individuals with knowledge about their genetic makeup and help them make informed decisions about their health.
Another example of a company leading the field in precision medicine is Foundation Medicine, a molecular information company specialising in the genomic profiling of cancer patients. The company’s genomic tests help oncologists match patients with targeted therapies and clinical trials based on the genetic characteristics of their tumours. The goal is to provide more personalised and effective cancer treatments.
IBM Watson Health is a health information technology company that uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to help healthcare providers make better clinical decisions. The company’s offerings include genomics, imaging, clinical trial matching tools, and population health and patient engagement solutions.
GRAIL is a biotechnology company that is developing a blood test for the early detection of cancer. The test analyses fragments of DNA that are shed by tumours into the bloodstream, to detect cancer at an earlier stage when it is more treatable. The test is currently being evaluated in large-scale clinical trials.
Finally, Veracyte is a genomic diagnostics company that focuses on providing molecular diagnostic tests for thyroid and lung cancer. The company’s tests help healthcare providers make more informed treatment decisions, reducing unnecessary surgeries and treatments. These companies are just a few examples of the many innovative organisations leading the way in precision medicine, using cutting-edge technologies and approaches to improve patient outcomes and transform healthcare.
Considerations With Precision Medicine
When it comes to precision medicine, some technical, regulatory, clinical and ethical considerations need to be taken into account.
- Advanced data analysis techniques like machine learning and natural language processing are needed to extract valuable insights from large and complex datasets.
- There is an additional need for secure and interoperable data-sharing platforms to enable collaboration among healthcare providers and researchers.
- It’s vital to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of patient data and obtaining informed consent from patients for using their data.
- The potential for data analysis and interpretation bias could result in inaccurate or discriminatory treatment decisions.
- Providers must ensure equitable access to precision medicine technologies, while addressing disparities in healthcare access and outcomes.
- Hurdles exist within the ownership of patient data, as well as the potential for private companies’ commercialization of patient data.
- Paramount remains the need for compliance with relevant laws and regulations, such as those related to data protection, patient rights, and clinical trials.
- The industry requires regulatory oversight and approval of precision medicine technologies and treatments.
- There are concerns surrounding the validation and verification of precision medicine treatments, as their safety must first be verified.
- However, we must integrate precision medicine into clinical workflows and decision-making processes, while providing specialised training.
- Precision medicine impacts society as a whole, including its potential to exacerbate existing health disparities or lead to the creation of new ones.
- The potential for precision medicine to contribute to the democratisation of healthcare and the empowerment of patients, as well as its role in shaping public policy and healthcare delivery models.
Despite the many considerations that need to be taken into account, precision medicine is still considered a revolutionary field in healthcare. The ability to tailor medical treatments and interventions to individual patients based on their unique genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors can transform healthcare in previously unimaginable ways.
Precision medicine promises more personalised and effective treatments, earlier disease detection, and improved patient outcomes. While technical, ethical, regulatory, clinical, and social considerations must be addressed, precision medicine’s potential benefits cannot be ignored.
As researchers and healthcare providers continue to work on developing and implementing precision medicine technologies and treatments, it is essential to carefully consider the implications of these innovations and ensure that they are used responsibly.
As healthcare becomes more personalised and patient-centred, the ability to tailor medical treatments and interventions to individual patients will become increasingly important. Moreover, precision medicine can reduce healthcare costs by avoiding unnecessary treatments and improving the efficiency of clinical trials and drug development.
As our understanding of the genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that contribute to disease continues to improve, precision medicine will become an increasingly important tool in the fight against complex and chronic diseases.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely the author’s opinion and not investment advice – it is provided for educational purposes only. By using this, you agree that the information does not constitute any investment or financial instructions. Do conduct your own research and reach out to financial advisors before making any investment decisions.
The author of this text, Jean Chalopin, is a global business leader with a background encompassing banking, biotech, and entertainment. Mr. Chalopin is Chairman of Deltec International Group, www.deltec.io.
The co-author of this text, Robin Trehan, has a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s in international business and finance, and an MBA in electronic business. Mr. Trehan is a Senior VP at Deltec International Group, www.deltec.io.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text are solely the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect those of Deltec International Group, its subsidiaries, and/or its employees.