What is Precision Medicine and Why it Matters
What is DNA?
DNA is the instruction book of life. Six billion ‘letters’ long, this book is largely the same between individuals as all humans share 99.9% of their DNA. But the 0.1% difference is what makes each of us unique, and can sometimes even make the difference between health and disease.
Medicine as it is Practised Today
Although doctors know that your DNA can influence how you respond to treatments, they don’t routinely sequence your entire DNA book to predict your treatment outcome.
In fact, only 10% of health outcomes are determined by healthcare. One third is determined by genetics, while the rest is affected by social or environmental factors and behavioural patterns which are poorly captured during routine medical consultations.
With this “one-size-fits-all” approach, all patients are given the same treatment even though
not all experience benefits and some even face negative side effects.
What is Precision Medicine?
Instead of treating all patients the same way, precision medicine takes individual variations in genetics, environmental and lifestyle factors into account, allowing doctors to more accurately predict which treatment and prevention strategies will work in different groups of people. Enabled by tools to analyse data on a large scale and with DNA sequencing becoming more affordable, precision medicine can improve healthcare by giving doctors a more detailed understanding of each patient.
Positive Outcomes of Precision Medicine
Reliable biomarkers help doctors pre-empt possible health conditions and act before it is too late
De-mystify the causes of rare diseases and accelerate the search for potential treatments
Patients receive the right drug at the right time, improving efficacy and reducing side-effects
Understanding the basis of disease will inform the development of new drugs and therapies
PRECISION MEDICINE EFFORTS AROUND THE WORLD
To help harness the benefits of precision medicine for their people, governments around the world have initiated national genomics programmes.
Most of these national programmes, however, are focused on Western or European populations. Asian people—who make up 60% of the world population—are under-represented in these databases.
SINGAPORE’S CONTRIBUTION TO PRECISION MEDICINE
With its multi-ethnic population that captures the diversity of Asia’s genomes and strong research capabilities, Singapore is in an ideal position to address our lack of understanding of Asian-specific genetic conditions. Precision Health Research, Singapore (PRECISE) is the central entity coordinating a whole of government effort to implement phase II of Singapore’s 10-year National Precision Medicine strategy.
HOW WILL MY DATA BE USED?
To realise the potential of precision medicine, genetic data needs to be linked to lifestyle and health information. Scientists can then use this data to find out the significance of each genetic variant and how different treatments or behaviours can change clinical outcomes.
However, there are hundreds of thousands of genetic variants which can each occur in different populations at different levels. To identify the relevant variants, large databases are required. In other words, the more people that participate, the more accurate the predictions can be.
Public Engagement Efforts
Our work will not succeed without a Here are some activities we have conducted over the years to get your input on what precision medicine can do for Singapore and how we should go about doing it:
Your valuable feedback has shaped the way PRECISE is run, including how the data collected is stored, secured and retrieved.
MAKING THE FUTURE OF MEDICINE A REALITY
Healthcare has made great strides in the last hundred years. But the next hundred years promise to be even more exciting. Precision medicine will not only improve the lives of patients but will also have a profound impact on the way research is conducted and shape our future economy.
HOW CAN I TAKE PART?
Whether you are a researcher, company representative or ordinary citizen, we want to work with you. Get in touch with us today by emailing email@example.com to find out more about how you can participate in this landmark project.