Since Craig Venter decoded the human genome, we’ve seen massive strides in understanding and manipulating genetic information. Combined with stem cell research and CRISPR gene editing techniques, it seems the potential for medical breakthroughs is truly unlimited.
Five years ago, an even more precise DNA editing tool was developed, called Prime, which opened the door for precision engineering of genetic sequences, rather than just ‘snipping out the bad bits’ and letting the DNA repair itself. Which sounds great, if you know what to encode where, to get the desired results.
Now personalized medical treatments are powered by big data; with wearable devices, electronic patient records and linked data about the geographic and demographic history of the patient, deep learning algorithms and artificial intelligence are designing personalized therapies for people, that target specific conditions with high precision.
It’s no wonder that tech giants like Google and Amazon have been eager to tie up deals for data – even anonymized data – from government agencies like the NHS. The key to training smart systems to diagnose all sorts of diseases, and design treatments for them, is massive amounts of real-life data. Whether it’s lifestyle, environmental, medical history or genomic data, it’s all needed to develop accurate models for recognizing patterns, predicting and pre-empting diseases, and designing effective treatments.
Doctors and medical practitioners are increasingly giving way to data scientists and bioinformatics experts. In conjunction with ever-smarter computer systems, they are providing the answers to medical problems that have eluded us until now, and personalized healthcare is becoming a multi-trillion-dollar industry. And if you’re over 50, you are part of the largest segment of that market – longevity.
Now it’s safe to say: Data is the best medicine!