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Overcoming Resistance to Precision Medicines

Posted on May 10th, 2017 by in Pharma R&D

Precision medicine white paper

Precision medicines, which target specific subgroups of patients bearing particular mutations or symptoms, have demonstrated astounding efficacies and have had great success in areas with limited treatment options. However, just because a precision medicine works for a patient at the onset of treatment does not mean it will remain efficacious forever.

The complexity of biological systems has thwarted the efficacy of many promising medications, including some precision medicines. In many cases, patients respond to a treatment for only a short time before developing drug resistance.

Pharmaceutical companies typically respond to the discovery of drug resistance by producing second-generation drugs. However, in the case of precision medicine, these new drugs target individual genetic mutations linked to the observed resistance. This means that the resulting drugs benefit individual subgroups of an already limited patient population. It makes it increasingly difficult for pharmaceutical companies to recoup the costs of developing targeted therapies.

Opening a path out of the scientific and financial dead end that precision medicine could find itself in will require placing more information at the heart of development strategies. Drug discovery, design, optimization and clinical evaluation must be guided by as much information about the complexity of drug action and the dynamic nature of disease as possible. Otherwise, how can we ensure that a drug will work effectively, safely and in the long-term within living organisms.

All drug development, including precision medicine, must be data-driven, not target-driven. What’s more, that data must come from all the fields pertinent to disease and treatment. It’s not enough to only look at the biology of the target molecule or pathogen or the toxicity and pharmacokinetics of the compound.

It is encouraging to note that efforts to create and implement cross-disciplinary information-based approaches are already underway. Initiatives in bioinformatics are creating ways to visualize, evaluate and interpret large amounts of data that can then be leveraged to inform drug candidate validation and optimization studies.

Only such a data-driven approach can help precision medicine overcome resistances and other limitations. Ultimately, leveraging such high-quality data will enable the creation of better drugs.

To get a more detailed view of the issues facing precision medicine development and the potential of new information-driven approaches, read the white paper “Precision Medicine, not Limited Medicine: Sustainable Drug Development Builds on Effective Data Use”.


All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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