BOSTON Genomic research is widely expected to transform medicine, but progress has been slower than expected. While critics argue that the genomics "promise" has been broken and that money might be better spent elsewhere -- proponents say the deliberate pace underscores the complexity of the relationship between medicine and disease and, indeed, argues for more funding.
But thus far, these competing narratives have been based mostly on anecdotes. Ramy Arnaout, MD, DPhil, a founding member of the Genomic Medicine Initiative at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), decided it was time to look at genomics from a new perspective. So he turned to quantitative modeling, a numerical forecasting approach used to predict everything from weather events to the outcomes of political elections, and an extremely useful way to both set expectations and assist in decision-making.
Arnaout and colleagues knew that drug-related adverse outcomes cost the health-care system upwards of $80 billion a year, and that many such cases should be avoidable by choosing and dosing drug prescriptions according to a person's genome. So they developed a quantitative model to estimate how much time and money would be required to use genomics, specifically pharmacogenomics, to cut these adverse outcomes in half. Their findings, currently published online in the journal Clinical Chemistry, provide one of the first examples of data-driven estimates being applied to genomic medicine and offer a template for the use of quantitative modeling in this field.
How do the numbers add up? After analyzing their model for a range of situations, the research team found that the cost can be expected to be less than $10 billion, spread out over approximately 20 years.
"If you look across medicine, you can see specific places here and there where
|Contact: Bonnie Prescott|
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center