Time for “one size fits all” to become history in healthcare industry, precision medicine experts say in QF-backed Al Jazeera documentary
What if we are able to read the human body with more accuracy? What if we are able to prepare ourselves to withstand new epidemics? What if we are able to tailor-make healthcare treatments that will prevent our children, our parents, our families and friends from running pillar to post looking for answers to their health problems?
Precision medicine is to provide medical care to a person based on their genetic make-up
In an attempt to answer these questions, Qatar Foundation (QF) teamed up with Al Jazeera to produce a documentary on precision medicine titled The Book of Life – Precision Medicine, which showcases QF’s efforts and investments in this area, which is said to be the future of healthcare.
The Book of Life – Precision Medicine?
Precision medicine is an approach for disease treatment that factors in individual differences in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person. Why do some people react differently to certain drugs, or why are some people becoming severely ill with SARS-CoV-2 whereas others are showing no symptoms – these are questions precision medicine seeks to answer, thereby offering accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.
“Precision medicine is to provide medical care to a person based on their genetic make-up. Different treatment options are to be provided – whether diagnostic, therapeutic, or preventive – based on the individual person’s genetic composition. The time of ‘one size fits all’ will become history,” Dr. Said Ismail, Director of Qatar Genome Programme (QGP), a member of Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation, said.
Despite significant scientific advances in the field of medicine, unknown problematic areas continue exist and baffle doctors. One such example is that of baby Shereen. At only five months, she began to fall ill with severe chest infections. She was given a host of medicines, including antibiotics, and put on oxygen and even given sedatives, but her little body was just not responding to any of those treatments. Her condition kept deteriorating until she reached a stage where she couldn’t breathe on her own and had to be put on a ventilator.
As the baby kept fighting for her life, she was referred to QF’s Sidra Medicine. Here, doctors ran some tests, including some genetic tests, and it was discovered that the baby had a defect in a specific gene which affected her immunity. This was enough for the doctors to give her the precise treatment for her condition.
Baby Shereen has been on a road to recovery since.
What distinguishes precision medicine from traditional medicine is the availability of appropriate technologies to diagnose the disease at a molecular level
Genomics technology is one of the most prominent techniques that help achieve the mission of precision medicine, according to Dr. Khalid Fakhro, Acting Chief Research Officer at Sidra Medicine and the Director of the Precision Medicine program at the healthcare center. “What distinguishes precision medicine from traditional medicine is the availability of appropriate technologies to diagnose the disease at a molecular level.”
Precision medicine not only contributes to the treatment of diseases, it has also played a vital role in exploring the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to help reduce its spread.
Dr. Hamdi Mbarek, Scientific and Industry Partnerships Manager, QGP, said: “COVID-19 is now of paramount importance in our scientific research at QGP, where we are supporting State efforts in reducing the spread of this virus by conducting research and developing innovations to understand the human genome in explaining the risks and susceptibility of being infected with COVID-19.”
COVID-19 is now of paramount importance in our scientific research at QGP, where we are supporting State efforts in reducing the spread of this virus
Genomics and its applications in the field of precision medicine is making great strides in Qatar. Precision medicine has been identified as one of the national priorities – an aspect that will be critical in shaping the future of humanity.