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Is Personalised Medicine Changing the Way Chronic Conditions Are Treated?

Chronic diseases, defined as conditions that last one year or more and require ongoing medical attention, limit activities of daily living, or both, are on the rise.

Over 50 million people in Europe have more than one chronic disease. With an ever-increasing life expectancy (and subsequently the focus on treating ageing populations), it is likely that the number of individuals dealing with chronic conditions will increase further.

Treating chronic conditions has traditionally proven a very costly and lengthy process in Europe, as the level of support and access to treatment varies considerably depending on location, income, and availability.

Personalised medicine and care have the potential to change the way in which chronic conditions are treated.

Here’s how:


The biopharma industry has an unprecedented amount of data compared to a few years ago.

It’s not just the quantity of the data that has potential, but the quality, too – researchers are making progress in understanding regions of the human genome more reliably than ever before.

This biological data is what forms the basis for deep phenotyping, which is an up-and-coming trend in the personalised and precision medicine space, referring to the comprehensive analysis of disease traits (or phenotypes) as an outcome of genetic, epigenetic, lifestyle or environmental factors.

Deep phenotyping has the potential to bring greater accuracy to precision medicine and has already shown potential in areas such as neurodegenerative disorders and liver disease.

For example, British biotech Ochre Bio aims to improve the quality of transplant livers with deep phenotyping, having raised $9.6 million in seed funding to advance its work on precision RNA therapeutics, which will be used to remodel suboptimal livers.

Treatment of chromosomal disorders

Screening tests to determine chromosomal disorders in foetuses have evolved considerably over the years. 

Danish healthcare company Novo Nordisk is a prime example of this, having committed to the area of rare chromosome disease research.

One disorder that Novo Nordisk has focused on is Turner syndrome, a disorder arising from the presence of only one X chromosome instead of two, which is associated with an elevated risk of infertility, short stature, and underdeveloped ovaries.

The short stature associated with Turner syndrome is due to the inactive (or deleted) SHOX gene. Novo Nordisk already had the standard growth hormone therapy Norditropin under its belt to target this gene, which was approved some time ago.

More recently, Novo Nordisk has a drug candidate under development called Somapacitan, which is delivered subcutaneously and acts as a replacement for the endogenous growth hormone that targets the somatotropin receptor in adults with growth hormone deficiency. 

Alongside Turner syndrome (for which Somapacitan is in phase 3 trials), it is also being investigated to treat a variety of other growth disorders, such as Noonan Syndrome.

CAR-T manufacturing

Cancer therapeutics, given the prevalence of cancer in the Western world, has been a key area of focus for CAR-T.

Recently, German biotech Miltenyi Biotech has coordinated the new EU-funded project CARAT, with the mission to deliver new methods to enable the wide use of novel personalised cancer treatment.

This European consortium has amassed a staggering €6 million, comprising a multi-national team of leading experts from eight European partnering institutions, including biotech and research centres in Germany, Italy, the UK and France.

The aim of this project is to integrate innovative cell manufacturing tools and enable technologies into a new, comprehensive platform that can facilitate the safe, cost-efficient delivery of CAR T-cells. 

There is hope that this process will be easily upscaled and disseminated worldwide, with already significant success stories of cancer therapies based on CAR T-Cells. 

In short, expectations for CAR-T manufacturing when it comes to personalised medicine are both high and positive.

Identification of disease progression through biomarkers

Biomarkers are another innovation in the personalised medicine for chronic diseases space, with biomarkers allowing researchers and clinicians to define the status of a disease, the body’s response to a disease, and to determine patient populations that can benefit from specific medications.

By monitoring biomarkers, healthcare providers can identify disease progression earlier and therefore tailor treatment plans accordingly.

When it comes to clinical trials, biomarkers can more effectively select the appropriate patients who will benefit most from a novel drug, making it easier to accurately track the drug’s efficacy, increasing overall trial efficiency and speed to market.

As with all other areas of healthcare, biomarkers are also experiencing a digital revolution through the introduction of biomarker assays.

A biomarker assay is an assay in which the algorithm itself is able to identify the biomarker to complement the information that can be identified with existing testing or to uncover information that any existing methodologies can’t find.

These biomarker assays have the potential to offer more comprehensive information to pathologists to make result interpretation easier and more efficient.

The future of personalised medicine 

Digital transformation isn’t slowing down in the personalised and precision medicine/care space.

As the rush to respond to the variety of complex chronic diseases increases globally, the facets of personalised medicine will continue to gain traction and funding in the hopes that patient outcomes can be improved.

At a time when many healthcare businesses and economies are looking to make healthcare more accessible and effective, personalised medicine seems to be the answer.

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