The main objective of Precision Medicine, also known as Individualised Medicine, is to establish an individual’s predisposition to a specific disease, as well as to efficiently detect the establishment of a disease. This objective can be achieved through:
- Prevention, that is, the identification of vulnerable groups in the general population and the application of preventive measures.
- The early diagnosis of the disease and timely therapeutic intervention.
- The maximisation of benefits to be gained from the selected treatment, whilst minimising side effects.
- Drastically cutting costs thanks to delivering the optimal treatment to the correct patient.
The PMU shall initially focus on developing and implementing the above activities in three areas:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Neurodegenerative diseases.
In a subsequent phase, the PMU shall expand its activities to include the diagnostic and therapeutic management of other diseases with multifactorial aetiology. To perform effective research around such diseases, the following supporting structures and resources – also to be developed within the PMU – are required:
- Biostatistics & Epidemiology
- Genetic Epidemiology and Bioinformatics
- Big Data
- Health Economics
- Artificial Intelligence
The PMU expansion shall be based on the collaboration with the research structures of the Basic & Translational Research Unit and the Clinical Trials Unit, as well as with the Laboratories and Clinical Departments of the School of Medicine, AUTh. Additionally, the Unit shall seek collaboration with international entities that deal with Precision Medicine and training new scientists at similar laboratories abroad.
Genetic testing shall be a key activity for the PMU. It shall be focused on the investigation of and correlation between patient’s genome and the response to specific treatment options, as well as to the epigenetic impact of drugs and various environmental factors such as nutrition.
Moreover, the PMU scope shall include the development of controlled-release drug dosing systems (e.g. polymeric nanoparticles, microcapsules, liposomes etc.), aiming on the one hand to increase the efficacy and reduce the toxicity of drugs under development whilst, one the other, to acquire the capacity for the production of literally new pharmaceutical products resulting from improvements and/or modifications to the excipients used in already licensed drugs.
Although Precision Medicine is in its element when it comes to research on customising drug regimens, the PMU shall also work in the areas of diagnostic precision and ranking as well as making decisions regarding individualised prognosis, follow-up and management, based on criteria including cost/effectiveness comparisons.