From genomics to big data: the evolution of precision healthcare

From genomics to big data: the evolution of precision healthcare
From genomics to big data: the evolution of precision healthcare

The one-size-fits-all approach to health care is gradually disappearing in favor of a more individualized model of care that takes into account a person’s unique characteristics, namely their genes, environment and lifestyle. This is called precision healthcare.

This evolution is based on a better understanding of human genetics, combined with advances in biotechnology, diagnostics and data-driven technologies. It enables healthcare providers to better identify diseases and define treatments that are both more accurate and more effective with greater emphasis on risk prediction, prevention and preventative measures.

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Precision healthcare and the role of data in healthcare were among the key topics of discussion at the inaugural edition of Abu Dhabi Global Health Week, an event that brought together industry leaders health professionals, entrepreneurs and policy makers with the aim of collaborating, sharing ideas and strategizing on the future of health.

How big data helps adapt medical treatments

On the ground, during World Health Week in Abu Dhabi, it became clear that the individualization of healthcare relies, somewhat paradoxically, on the collection and sharing of mass data. “Real-world data has enormous potential in healthcare,” explained Alex Bedenkov, Vice President of Global Evidence for AstraZeneca’s BioPharmaceuticals Medical unit.

“To prepare for the future of healthcare, we will increasingly rely on real-world data and platforms, including those with population health information. »

At AstraZeneca, precision medicine is applied across the entire portfolio, whether in oncology for several years or more recently in the fight against complex chronic diseases. The goal is to identify and test specific gene products and biomarkers to discover how they relate to disease and to contribute to the development of tailored medicines.

Beyond the sector, national healthcare systems are also harnessing the power of data. Health data exchanges are widespread around the world, but no system is more robust than the UAE’s Malaffi health information exchange platform. A centralized database of unified patient records, Malaffi enables the efficient exchange of patient information between healthcare providers, thereby leading to improved healthcare delivery, equity and outcomes for patients. patients.

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“With this type of platform, we will be able to determine everything,” Alex Bedenkov said of Malaffi. “From automating patient care pathways to drug development to population health. »

Genomic data with revolutionary potential

Data, yes, but not just any data. Today, data-driven healthcare tools leverage genetic and genomic data. The most striking example is the UAE Genome Program, the world’s most ambitious genomics project, which uses cutting-edge DNA sequencing and artificial intelligence technologies to generate quality, comprehensive genomic data. on the Emirati population.

Integrated into the Malaffi exchange system, this reference genome now makes it possible to make clinical decisions with a view to improving the results of large-scale health programs. It will provide an important step toward precision medicine and safer health care as scientists advance in understanding better over time what determines human health and disease from a point of view. from a genetic point of view.

Ashish Koshy, COO of M42 understands this approach better than anyone. His organization’s deeptech product, Med42, is a large, open-access clinical language model, based on generative AI and trained using data from the UAE Genome Program.

“As a health technology company, having high-quality data sets is fundamental to benefit from insights that contribute to the development of personalized and precision medicine. Our reference is the genomic profile of each individual,” he explained.

“ [Le Programme de génome émirati] gives every citizen the ability to sequence their genes, meaning we are able to better understand each individual’s risks to their own health. When patients are admitted to the hospital, doctors can consult the Malaffi portal and prescribe them medications based on their genomic profile. »

Fully unlocking the value of our health data

Despite promising national collaborations, exemplified by Malaffi and the Emirati Genome Program, nothing comparable exists internationally. Regulatory challenges and bureaucracy in the public and private sectors are holding back progress, but if we truly want to make an impact on global health, countries and businesses around the world must join forces. “Working from national datasets cannot solve all our problems,” said Ashish Koshy. “But imagine if we could convince countries to securely share their data sets to overcome much bigger obstacles? »

“To truly realize the benefits of AI, we need to work with data at scale. We need to collaborate, not only within Abu Dhabi itself, but also across different regions. »

The aim of Abu Dhabi World Health Week is to enable this type of international and cross-sector collaboration. This year, AstraZeneca and M42 were joined by dozens of other international healthcare leaders at the inaugural event, including Raymond Fryrear II, Global Head of Digital Solutions at Johnson & Johnson.

“This conference is a unique experience, bringing together policy makers, suppliers and industry around the same table to discuss these issues,” said Raymond Fryrear. “Technology and biology are important pieces of the puzzle, but humans remain the key element. This is why exchanges and networks are so important. »

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Empowering patients through equitable access

Who said that precision medicine always has to be innovative and complex? Dr. Stephen Grobmyer, Institute President at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, explained how its state-of-the-art facilities combine with a patient-centered model of care.

“As technology develops, [à la Cleveland Clinic] we tend to focus on the basics, namely physical activity, weight management and family history. If we could convince people to stop smoking, exercise three times a week and watch their diet, we could significantly reduce diabetes, obesity and many of the diseases linked to these habits. »

Data sharing combined with AI technologies helps support this fundamental approach, returning control to the individual themselves. Widely accessible digital innovations, such as health tracking using biometric data and presenting diagnostic results “right in the app,” are helping to democratize access to healthcare.

Innovations developed in this area were all represented in Abu Dhabi at the event, including GluCare, a diabetes care center that offers remote metabolic monitoring, and DietID, a digital health assessment tool. food. These digital applications aim to simplify the patient experience, allowing them to easily and quickly enroll in diagnostic tests and health management programs that use evidence-based AI tools to provide health advice on a large scale.

In addition to reducing the burden on health systems, these precision digital tools increase public awareness of health issues and allow them to take control of their health, by integrating genetic factors and biometric data into their daily lives. on the way of life.

Share data or guarantee its security?

Despite its ability to improve population health and facilitate research, many people still have concerns about sharing health data on a large scale, especially when it comes to using it in intelligence tools artificial.

While the potential for precision healthcare is immense, cross-border and cross-sector collaboration is essential to address regulatory challenges, ensure data security and democratize access to healthcare.

“It’s not just an obstacle, it’s also an opportunity,” said Ashish Koshi. “We need to collaborate with all stakeholders, including governments and policymakers, to understand how to use this data correctly, without harming patients and their interests. »

As new advances advance healthcare around the world every day, events like Abu Dhabi Global Health Week are helping to chart a path to success. Beyond genetics and data, this year’s event showcased a wide range of new technologies and innovations. He also hosted forums with policymakers and business leaders to support future healthcare strategy and unlock the full potential of precision healthcare around the world.

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