CHENNAI: Prevention is better than cure. Period. It is easy to say when it comes to a common cold or a fever, but what about diseases like cancer, diabetes, inherited illnesses or one of the 7000 rare diseases in the world.
Well, research shows that they too could be prevented - through 'Precision Medicine', termed as a breakthrough in medical science. It is catching up fast all over the world. In this doctors could not only determine a disease but be able to predict by taking into account an individual's variability in an environment, lifestyle and genes.
The biggest investor in precision medicine today is the United Kingdom (around 200 million pounds). To enrich research in the field, UK is stretching out to researchers in India as well. As part of a delegation of British Prime Minister Theresa May, representatives from leading universities and medical organisations in the UK, came down to Chennai for a 'first ever workshop' on precision medicine. Speaking at the workshop, Richard Barker, Precision Medicine Catapult, UK, narrated the story of a toddler, who had repeated black outs and was regularly falling sick and was diagnosed with diabetes. "But the mother wasn't satisfied with the diagnosis and she searched the net for answers and found another mother who described similar symptoms in her child as well.
But she found that the disease was diagnosed differently and the other child was receiving treatment. Investigations later revealed that the two children had a lot on common leading to the illness, this is where precision medicine comes into play." At the workshop, experts also discussed genomics and how it was drastically changing the face of medicine. "But this is not just about medicines, it is also about chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
It is being able to find out which type of body needs what type of treatment as well," said Mike Messenger, University of Leeds, UK. Presently, Barker said, there were 500,000 people in UK who had come forward to give their medical samples and data to be researched on. "People are very open to genomics and precision medicine. In India too, a lot of good research is being done which is why we want to collaborate with them."the Dravidian Movement, he said. The memorandum was handed over to the HRD Minister through DMK's Rajya Sabha Member RS Bharathi.