Today we will be discussing how “precision medicine” will affect the transfusion community. Precision medicine, or “personalized medicine,” tailors treatments for patients based on their individual genomic differences and non-invasive monitoring.
Dr. Harvey Klein explains how precision medicine is not new to the transfusion community:
“Transfusion medicine was the first precision medicine when we matched donor and recipient by ABO blood groups. Over the last 50 years it’s become increasingly personalized with the advent of serologic typing of donors and recipients to assure excellent matching of donor and recipient for compatibility reasons.”
Today, inexpensive genomic typing along with bioinformatics is revolutionizing mass-scale genotyping. A regional blood center in Wisconsin recently launched a pilot program to match blood donors to recipients who need antigen-negative red cell units.
Dr. Bill Flegel describes how hospitals were able to match around 95% of their transfusion recipients with genomic data from more than 43,000 donors:
“The key element is the seamless integration of the molecular donor data into the blood bank information system. The Blood Center has put its data ‘in the cloud,’ which allows the hospitals to screen their blood inventory using the internet for units matching the needs of the patients. There is no doubt that this approach is the way antigen-matched blood will be provided in the future.”
This approach will reduce the need for serologic testing and screening. However, Dr. Flegel points out that all new technologies require investment in the beginning, but they will pay off in the long-term. He adds:
“If we do not invest in the technology it won’t get implemented. We need to bring this position of ‘precision medicine’ forward; we need to have more people experienced in the field, and we need to train many more people. Serology will never be lost or be abandoned totally, but you cannot get the same degree of quality and cost-efficiency by continuing to do serology. One must move into the field of molecular technology.”
President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative includes $215 million in the 2016 budget for implementing safe databases and new treatments to help usher in this new era of data-based, personalized medicine.
We’ll be back with another edition of Transfusion News on October 15th. Thanks for joining us.
- Klein HG, Flegel WA, Natanson C. Red blood cell transfusion: Precision vs imprecision medicine. JAMA 2015; published online September 10, 2015.
- Collins FS and Varmus H. A new initiative on precision medicine. N Engl J Med 2015; 372(9): 793-795.
- Fact Sheet: President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative. January 30, 2015. Accessed online September 18, 2015. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/30/fact-sheet-president-obama-s-precision-medicine-initiative