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Personalized Medicine: Just Talk or Soon to Be Reality?

The personalized medicine industry is growing rapidly, driven by increasing demand for novel drug discovery and rising disease incidence.

Personalized Medicine: Just Talk or Soon to Be Reality?

Bioprinting is a key technology advancing this growth, enabling patient-specific treatments, customized implants, and targeted drug delivery systems.

The personalized medicine industry, valued at around $538.93 billion in 2022, is expanding rapidly, driven by increasing demand for novel drug discovery and the rising incidence of diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular conditions. The market value of the industry is expected to grow to around $922.72 billion by 2030 (7.20% CAGR).

Even with this projected growth, questions remain about exactly how and when the future of personalized medicine will unfold. One technology that is shedding light on these questions, and paving the way for personalized medicine to become a reality, is 3D bioprinting.

Bioprinting advances personalized treatment
Bioprinting is a method of creating three-dimensional structures layer-by-layer out of bio-inks made from living cells. For personalized medicine, this technology can be used to accelerate and improve drug testing, leading to the development of patient-specific treatment plans.

“By using a patient’s own cells to create tissue models and organoids, scientists can test how a patient will respond to certain drugs,” says Vidmantas Šakalys, CEO of Vital3D, a biotech company that specializes in 3D bioprinting solutions. “This method can help specialists create highly personalized treatment plans, to reduce the risk of adverse drug reactions and improve treatment outcomes.”

Bioprinting can also be used to improve implants and prosthetics. By leveraging precise CT or MRI scans, bioprinters can produce scaffolds that match the exact shape and size of a patient’s bone or cartilage defect. “These customized implants can integrate with the patient’s tissue and enhance the healing process,” Šakalys explains, adding that such innovations can also significantly reduce recovery times.

Lastly, bioprinting is helping put personalized drug delivery systems on the horizon. As Šakalys describes it, “a bioprinted scaffold embedded with chemotherapy drugs can be implanted at a tumor site to provide localized and controlled drug release, minimizing side effects and improving efficacy.” The advancements in these areas demonstrate that personalized medicine is not a distant fantasy, but a reality that is steadily approaching.

Mainstream adoption within two decades
It is difficult to say exactly when personalized medicine will become standard practice and readily available, but Šakalys predicts that the industry will significantly advance within the next decade. “Within 5 years, various proof of concepts will appear in the area of personalized medicine, with clinical trials taking another 5-8 years,” he says. “In all, I would predict it will take 10-20 years for today's concepts to reach mainstream medicine.”

All of this depends, however, on the establishment of adaptive and flexible regulatory frameworks as well as advanced manufacturing and healthcare facilities. “Key measures like fast-track approval processes, risk-based regulatory approaches, and robust informed consent processes will be vital,” Šakalys says.

“Additionally, specialized bioprinting centers, quality control laboratories, and integrated healthcare facilities will be necessary to support the quality and efficiency of these next-generation medical advancements.”

Ensuring accessibility of personalized medicine
Along with the anticipated benefits of personalized medicine comes the question of accessibility. In other words, will personalized medicine be a luxury, or can it transform healthcare for everyone?

“Ensuring that personalized medicine is accessible will require targeted policies and initiatives,” Šakalys says. “Governments can provide subsidies and financial assistance programs to make personalized medicine more affordable for lower-income groups. Regulatory authorities can also mandate insurance coverage for genetic testing and personalized therapies, to bridge the gap between different socioeconomic groups.”

The potential benefits of accessible personalized medicine are wide-ranging. “Reducing the burden of disease through personalized medicine can lead to economic benefits, through increased productivity and reduced healthcare costs.”

By targeting treatments based on individual needs, it is possible to reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases and improve life expectancy across all socioeconomic groups. The tailored approach of personalized medicine can help eliminate the current costly trial-and-error process that burdens both patients and healthcare systems.

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