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European Biopharmaceutical Review

At a Glance

Personalised medicine means that medical treatment can be tailored towards an individual after a disease has been – hopefully correctly – diagnosed. The treatment should take multiple factors such as age, weight, lifestyle, and, ultimately, genomic information into account. The more precisely and reliably this can be done, the better the patient should respond to the therapy without any unwanted adverse effects.

Nowadays, the term ‘personalised medicine’ is almost exclusively associated with next generation sequencing (NGS) or whole genome sequencing (WGS), respectively. This means one essentially takes a sample (a simple stick in the mouth serves this purpose well) and sends it to their favourite NGS company, which will probably cost less than €1,000, and then they get a long list of diseases and a probability that they will develop one of these diseases or they already have one or multiple diseases. However, that is not the whole story, and, probably, the more interesting story starts there.

A Brief History of WGS

At the beginning in 1990, sequencing the entire human genome for the first time took 13 years and $3 billion. Nine years later, 69 more human genomes were sequenced. In 2016, the University of Toronto launched a project to sequence 10,000 genomes within one year (1). As of the beginning of 2018, the 100,000 genomes project has reached almost 40,000 sequenced genomes and is expected to reach its goal by end of the same year (2). When you look at the cost for sequencing a genome (see Figure 1, page 54, noting the logarithmic y-scale), it becomes clear what a tremendous progress the whole technique has made over the past few years.

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Guenther Proll is Co-Founder and Managing Director at Biametrics and has more than 18 years’ experience in optical biosensing. His work is focused on the characterisation and development of optical transduction technologies, spatially resolved surface chemistry on diverse substrates, and multianalyte/multiplex assay developments. Guenther holds a diploma in technical biology from the University of Stuttgart, Germany, and a PhD in physical chemistry from the Eberhard Karls University of Tuebingen, Germany.
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