Lack of test funding holding back precision medicine R&D

Precision medicine is becoming the norm in life sciences research but obstacles such as limited reimbursement for tests are hindering progress, according to a new survey.

A survey of 316 scientists reading the biotech website GenomeWeb, sponsored by Oracle Health Sciences, found that 62% of respondents participate in biomarker research, while another 12% would like to or are planning to do so in the next 12-24 months.

Oncology is still the disease area where precision medicine is likely to have the greatest impact, but it is likely to benefit other disease areas, including cardiovascular disease, neurology, and paediatrics.

The survey also showed that many of the life sciences and healthcare industry researchers questioned said they were bringing more research in-house.

Early initiatives involved outsourcing work to commercial partners – but now around 50% of respondents used either hybrid or in-house research.

Around 80% of respondents said they hope to use large and complex datasets to identify new insights and improve treatment recommendations. Meanwhile 72% said they are using the latest next generation sequencing (NGS) variant panel technology.

The vast majority of respondents who are not using large datasets said they see a benefit in using this approach.

Obstacles

But there are obstacles to precision medicine research – respondents said that limited reimbursement for precision medicine testing was the biggest obstacle.

But they also said that a lack of understanding of genomics, and a lack of education among clinicians was also an issue.

There were also issues with integrating different IT systems, the limited time for clinicians to interpret results, and providing access to the data for patients to share with other clinicians.

The report authors concluded: “Support of the concept of precision medicine has been widespread in the healthcare and life sciences communities, but the degree to which organisations have launched precision medicine initiatives has been unclear.”

“This research revealed that not only are the majority of organisations of all types active with precision medicine initiatives or planning to implement precision medicine initiatives, they are also interested in applying it to a broader spectrum of disease areas.”

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