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Genomics holds the potential of transforming the world of medicine. The extensive research in genomics holds the key to facing numerous challenges that the global healthcare industry faces frequently. Since the past few decades, technological advancements in the sequencing technology have plummeted the cost of genetic testing, making individual genome sequencing economically attainable.
Other advancements in genomic technologies, namely, wearable data collection devices, direct-to-consumer genomics, and pharmacogenomics, are leading healthcare organizations in storing large pools of data.
Several researchers and healthcare enthusiasts have begun implementing in-memory computing technology. This aids them in analyzing and using the available genomic data in an innovative manner, which further leads to extraordinary transformations in the way healthcare is offered to the populace in today’s world. Few of these technological advancements are currently in the process of creation.
Liquid biopsy DNA tests, for instance, is expected to emerge as a non-invasive procedure for early cancer detection. Moreover, the CRISPR-Cas9 technique that is used for gene editing is projected to provide innovative ways to alter genes to treat rare genetic diseases. A large number of genomic projects, as well as research and development activities, are underway. Here are some of the significant trends that will positively impact the vast field of healthcare and life science.
DNA Liquid Biopsy Testing to Aid in the Early Detection of Cancer and its Types
One of the key disease-fighting tools to watch out for in the genomics industry is DNA liquid biopsy testing. It is a cancer screening test that is based on a simple draw of blood. This type of test is expected to lead to early detection of cancer as dying cancer cells shed a very small amount of DNA into the patient’s blood.
In China, for instance, various research organizations and hospitals have begun conducting plenty of studies using these tests. Through these studies and experiments, the organizations are trying to prove that DNA analysis can pose as a screening test for acute diseases, such as nasopharyngeal carcinoma and liver tumors.
In the upcoming future, liquid biopsies can be used to aid in the decision-making process of cancer treatment instead of invasive tissue biopsies and extensive imaging. Liquid biopsies will also support tumor screening that is invisible on imaging as these biopsies look for specific subsets as compared to an entire genomic test. Researchers are hoping that it would act as a very useful tool for doctors by providing early clues about the type of cancer a patient may have and whether it has spread, thus, turning cancer decision-making simple.
Extensive Research in Genomics Results in the Creation of Supplemental Newborn Screening Test
Genomics enthusiasts believe that within the next 15 years, it is possible that every newborn baby would have their genome stored and sequenced with their electronic medical record (EMR) and other health data. Prenatal genetic screening programs are expected to grow in the near future. Moreover, pregnant women can easily opt for non-invasive screening tests to support a doctor in determining whether a baby may suffer from chromosomal conditions, such as Down Syndrome in future.
Sema4, a patient-centered health intelligence company, headquartered in the U.S., announced in February 2018, that it has launched Sema4 Natalis. It is a supplemental newborn screening test developed to detect 193 childhood-onset disorders or diseases.
This would help the parents to gain early insight into their kid’s health. The test can be easily performed at home by gently collecting the baby’s cheek swab. The company further stated that the test results would be available online within two weeks. If the test is positive, then a genetic counselor will contact the baby’s parents and pediatrician for further queries and treatment.
Genomics Help Consumers to Explore and Understand their Genetic Makeup
Consumers are playing an important role in creating awareness regarding genetic testing, as numerous genetic testing companies are targeting them to enter this field. 23andMe Inc., a privately held biotechnology and personal genomics company, based in the U.S., announced that it has received FDA approval for a direct-to-consumer genetic test in March 2018. The test will be used in detecting cancer risk. It allows the company to provide consumers information on the three genetic variants found in BRCA1 and BRCA2, without a prescription.