The Medical Industry is going through a big shift in the 21st century and the biggest factor driving the change is genetics.
Traditionally medical practice has relied upon identifying symptoms to treat and cure diseases. The process starts with a diagnosis, then identifying the nature of the problem and finally prescribing treatment corresponding to the health issue. The process is clearly centred around the ailment itself.
As the technology advances, a number of healthcare start-ups are looking to take a more bottom-up approach towards healthcare – providing treatment based not only on the nature of the disease but more importantly on the nature of a person’s genetic code.
Dr Lawrence Tzang
Identifying the nature and the requirements of a patient’s genetics as a starting point enables doctors and diagnosticians to provide precise treatment and medication. This stops doctors relying on broad-spectrum treatments, and therefore enhances the chances of recovery and minimises the treatment’s risk, https://www.urgentway.com/online-pharmacy/. The example of antibiotics becoming less effective because of their excessive use has been widely reported in the past.
A Hong Kong-based healthcare startup Prenetics is using genetic information to identify how patients’ bodies react to specific diet plans and medicines, making sure that the consumers opt for diets and treatments which have a higher chance of being effective.
Prenetics also provides an ‘inherited cancer screen test’ which assesses a person’s likelihood of developing certain hereditary cancers in their lifetime. It does this by analyzing specific changes (or mutations) in their genes. Only cancers which the global medical and research community have identified as having genetic associations are included in this test.
The result of the test is a DNA based analysis of the customer’s risk profile for the eight most common types of hereditary cancer – breast, stomach, pancreatic, prostate, ovarian, colorectal, melanoma, and uterine. After providing a saliva sample, customers will receive a report with a detailed summary of their results as well as tailored information about steps they can take to lower their risk.
Prenetics has also rolled out a program to screen for genetic health problems, which could lie dormant for generations and hence remain undetected because they show no symptoms. Family Planning Screen is a non-invasive screening for health conditions like Wilson’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and Bloom syndrome which could be passed on to the child. The screening could be done before or soon after conception.
The company has created a DNA based Non-Invasive Prenatal Test (NIPT) for the early detection of fetal health problems. The Prenetics test provides comprehensive testing as early as the tenth week of pregnancy, with 99.9% accuracy and results in just five to seven days.
“Early and accurate prenatal testing is essential because it contributes to better pregnancy management and also offers peace of mind to expectant parents. With traditional screening methods, accuracy is between 80-90%, this means 1 out of 5 pregnancies may not be properly diagnosed. This is a significant figure in the medical world and we intend to use DNA technology to solve this problem,”
– Dr Lawrence Tzang, Co-Founder of Prenetics
Prenetics recently acquired its British counterpart, DNAFit and hopes to expand to a dozen other countries by 2026. The company also works with insurance firms to provide plans to customers based on their genetic profile.
The start-up owns and operates its own DNA laboratory with international quality standards and effective protocols in place for handling samples and conducting DNA test processes. They have had external validation completed by the Core Facilities Genome Sequencing Laboratory (CFGSL) in Hong Kong, with proven genotyping accuracy of 99.9%.
Using genetic information to predict and cure diseases is a massive step towards creating a healthier and more robust society. ‘Prevention is better than cure’ certainly seems more pertinent to medicine than ever before.
Dr Lawrence Tzang