- Cedars-Sinai, a nonprofit hospital in Los Angeles, and health tech company Emulate announced a joint program that leverages technology to integrate stem cells from patients and replicate living tissue outside the body — with the aim of fine-tuning disease treatments based on their genetic makeup and disease variant.
- Using Emulate’s Organs-on-Chips technology, investigators recently demonstrated how cells of a human intestinal lining grown outside the body can mirror cells inside the body.
- The research paves the way for personalized testing of drug treatments.
The technology could help physicians determine a patient’s response to a specific treatment before administering it, reducing the chance that a drug will be ineffective or cause harm. It could also be used to predict how a disease progresses, enabling personalized treatment regimens to maximize outcomes, and to identify at-risk populations for adverse drug reactions, according to Robert Barrett, an assistant professor of medicine at Cedars-Sinai and lead author of the intestinal cell study published in Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
This is a new twist on precision medicine, where much of the focus has been on artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Last year, IBM Watson Health partnered with Illumina to expand access to precision oncology treatments using the Watson for Genomics cognitive computing platform and Illumina’s BaseSpace tumor sequencing process. Big Blue has also partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to help physicians expand and scale access to precision treatments for veterans with cancer.
Precision medicine and technology to enable its use in care pathways are still very much in their infancy, however.
Precision medicine was a major focus at the White House during the last administration. President Barack Obama launched the Precision Medicine Initiative in 2015 to speed biomedical research and equip physicians with new knowledge and tools to select treatments that will work best for specific patients. Among other things, it called for the National Institutes of Health to create a 1 million person cohort to improve understanding of various diseases, their treatment and how to prevent them.
The 21st Century Cures Act, signed into law a little over a year ago, also promotes precision medicine by authorizing NIH to spend $4.8 billion over 10 years on the Cancer Moonshot, precision medicine and BRAIN initiatives.