The dotcom pioneer Joe Kraus recently said that "the 20th century was about dozens of markets of millions of consumers. The 21st century is about millions of markets of dozens of consumers.”

“This sums up how healthcare and life sciences are changing,” says Hilary Thomas, head of life sciences strategy group for KPMG, and one of the speakers at the forthcoming event From building blocks to blockbusters: the future of the human genome on April 3 (sponsored by KPMG and partnered with PharmaTimes).

She added that “as well as the personalisation of medicine, we’re now looking at the personalisation of conditions – where we can identify and target different strains or types of diseases where once they would have been looked at in isolation.”

But understanding the value and benefits of personalised medicine can’t be achieved without better data, Prof Thomas believes. “We are still in the infancy of real-world and big-data technologies – the industry is not yet ready to turn this opportunity into economic value. Getting it right will be critical to achieving the step change we need in patient outcomes without breaking the budget.”

Although an enormous amount of progress has been made, Prof Thomas suggests more needs to be done. “Let’s not be complacent, there are some fantastic examples of therapies targeting specific genetic anomalies – Novartis' Glivec (imatinib) to name but one – but pharma must do more, particularly around some of the more complex conditions such as Alzheimer’s.”

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