Personalized healthcare is quickly becoming an important trend in healthcare. As more and more data about each patient and about genes and the human genome becomes available, technology companies are conducting research to store and analyze this data. They plan to use it to understand illnesses and treat patients on an individual level. Some big businesses understand the importance of personalized healthcare and are investing in ventures to make it happen.
Google and Bill Gates
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Foundation Medicine is a diagnostics company possibly best known for helping Steve Jobs with his cancer treatments. Foundation sells a test that examines the DNA fueling a patient’s cancer and tries to pinpoint the exact genetic mutations involved so doctors can come up with a personalized treatment plan. Both Google and Bill Gates have heavily invested in Foundation Medicine. Google owns 9 percent of stock, and Bill Gates owns 4. Major technological players are aware of the advantages of this kind of personal medicine research, and their strong investments will help to further the research of companies like Foundation.
IBM is doing several things to further the development of personalized healthcare. They’ve teamed up with the New York Genome Center to conduct genomic research that will help bring more personalized treatment plans to brain cancer patients, specifically those affected with glioblastoma, a severely malignant form of brain cancer. In tandem with IBM’s Watson, a cognitive computing project that makes it easier for physicians to access and assess patient data and medical records, IBM and NYGC have been working at this cancer research for a decade. The Watson system analyzes genomic differences between cancerous and non-cancerous brain cells, then interprets this data in such a way that physicians can use it to create an individual treatment plan for each glioblastoma patient.
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Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban recently invested $760k in Validic, a company that streamlines personalized health data that comes from multiple sources like healthcare apps. This data helps doctors, healthcare professionals, and other relevant parties access a single stream of patient data. With so much data connected to every patient, the health informatics field is growing as personalized healthcare comes to the forefront of medicine and biotech. Validic is a startup, currently boasting only fifteen employees. But Cuban sees the potential in the small company and values the work they are doing, saying that personalized medicine is the direction in which healthcare is going.
Computer giant Dell has come up with a high-performance computing system specifically meant to analyze genomes. The Dell Active Infrastructure for HPC Life Sciences is software for scientists. The goal of the project is to quickly and easily work with the genomic coding and analysis that scientists need. Since genomes are a huge amount of data, scientists need a lot of power and storage to complete their work. Dell is working through previous issues that cause delays in research and analysis, and the Active Infrastructure is going to help with cancer research, agriculture, and many things in between.
Just this past January, Sony has announced they are teaming up with medical company M3 in Tokyo to create a new company that will focus on genomic research as it relates to personalized medicine. The new company, called P5 Inc, will provide genome analysis to research institutions in Japan. Eventually, Sony hopes the company will be able to provide the same services on a more individual basis, relating genomic data with other medical information to create personalized healthcare regimes for specific patients. P5 isn’t the only investment Sony has made in the future of medicine. In 2012, Sony invested $644M in camera company Olympus to further their research regarding medical imaging technology, specifically endoscopes with extremely high resolution.
More and more corporations and wealthy individuals are investing in personalized healthcare, genome research, and the data concerns that go along with it. These investments in new projects and innovative companies show that some big businesses care about the future of the medical field and personalized health. Research and development for personalized healthcare can only grow with the backing of these major players.