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Article by: Tara Crawford Parks, PhD, and Sanna Abbasi, PhD

Insights from the Precision Medicine World Conference 2024

2024-02-06

This year’s 2024 Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) was held from January 24-26th at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley, California. Like previous years, the conference was a pivotal gathering of experts at the forefront of healthcare and genomics and brought together thought leaders, innovators, and professionals to delve into precision medicine and health.  

 

Throughout the event, attendees were immersed in discussions on cutting-edge technologies, sharing insights, and exploring the potential of precision medicine and health. The conference consisted of four topic tracks: Track 1 – Emerging Therapeutics; Track 2 – AI and Data Sciences; Track 3 – Diagnostics and Molecular Profiling in the Clinic; and Track 4 – Molecular Profiling – From Research to Clinic. Several presentations touched on the future of healthcare, providing a snapshot of the latest advancements and the collaborative efforts shaping the landscape of the industry. 

 

Set against the backdrop of innovation, PMWC 2024 featured a diverse array of sessions, workshops, and networking opportunities, creating a dynamic space where participants could engage and share their findings. DNA Genotek™ was pleased to be onsite at PMWC to interact with participants and to present the latest research on some of our product offerings. For those who missed the conference, we summarize some of the insights from PMWC 2024 below. 

Current progress on multi-omic research workflows 

Taking a multi-omics approach can facilitate both translational outcomes and provide the foundation for precision medicine. However, there is a need for appropriate computational analysis workflows to integrate molecular signatures, such as genomics and transcriptomics, together while also including the relevant pathophysiological model. For example, in oncology, it is necessary to consider these molecular signatures with respect to the tumor microenvironment in order to create models that can inform clinical decision-making. In the oncology drug development process, genomics (DNA) data alone is often not sufficient to measure clinical outcomes; incorporating transcriptomic (RNA) data, in addition to genomic data, can provide greater biological insight to demonstrate that a drug is working as expected.  

 

At the conference, several talks also focused on proteomics and where this layer of omics comes into play for precision medicine. In a panel discussion, comprised of world-renowned physicians and scientists, it was clear that the jury is still out on the value that proteomics will bring to the field, with general agreement that technology advancement is needed to support the generation and analysis of big data on the proteomics front.  

Starting with the end in sight: incorporating a multi-omic workflow in your research 

At PMWC, DNA Genotek was pleased to speak about the importance of incorporating a multi-omic workflow into research studies. Presented by one of the authors of this blog post, Dr. Tara Crawford Parks emphasized the importance of incorporating multi-omics, specifically genomic and transcriptomic datasets, in study workflows.

 

A multi-omic approach can generate more robust datasets that give broader insights for the system being investigated and enable researchers to go beyond the genome, to accelerate biological discovery. However, there are key considerations to keep in mind when designing multi-omics studies, and the focus of the presentation was on the considerations specific for the biological sampling methodology used. 

 

Choosing an efficient and cost-effective sampling methodology becomes even more critical when incorporating multi-omics into a study due to the challenges associated with collecting multiple independent samples to capture various analytes of interest. Some of these challenges include: 

 

  • Sampling variability. The chosen methodology for sample collection can increase the variability between or within samples and this variability can be carried throughout a workflow, ultimately impacting downstream data analysis and producing unnecessary noise in datasets.
  • Logistics. Collecting multiple samples creates additional logistical challenges related to sample traceability, storage space requirements, and often is associated with increased costs. Finding a solution that captures and stabilizes multiple analytes of interest in a single tube can reduce or eliminate these challenges. 
  • Sample type. The type of sample utilized and included in a multi-omic study can also have an impact on the overall success of the study.  

In her presentation, Dr. Crawford Parks showcased DNA Genotek’s recently launched OMNIgene™•SALIVA DNA and RNA (OMR-610) saliva collection and stabilization device, a product that aims to enable next generation precision science and medicine initiatives. With an all-in-one, user-friendly design, the device provides a solution for intuitive saliva collection, leveraging the physical form factor of our trusted legacy devices of the Oragene™ family, which have been robustly validated for ease of use and collection compliance. The proprietary stabilizing liquid, when mixed with the saliva sample, stabilizes DNA and RNA from multiple sources, for the detection of target analytes from human, bacteria, and viruses during storage and transport at ambient temperatures, negating the need for cold-chain transport. 

 

This product is positioned to not only provide a solution for multi-omics studies using saliva, but can be used to support research aimed at interrogating the salivary host and microbial interface, which has potential to accelerate precision medicine initiatives.

The future of artificial intelligence

Another trend across the multi-omic front was the role that artificial intelligence (AI) has in this space, including technological advancements, challenges, and ethical considerations. Specifically, to the precision medicine field, trends across the presentations at PMWC were:  

 

  • Disease prevention 
  • Diagnosis and therapeutics 
  • Value-based healthcare 

 

Industry experts showcased technologies that have potential to accelerate the pre-clinical and clinical drug discovery and development process and to expedite diagnosis and treatment decisions. The technological advances pave the way to develop scalable frameworks to make AI and deep/machine learning a reality in clinical decision-making.   

 

Although AI tools have come a long way and hold potential to revolutionize value-based healthcare, work is still required. From listening to experts in this space, it was evident that a collaborative approach is critical to provide a foundation that allows for compliant and ethical AI platforms to be successful at scale. Achieving this will unlock scientific breakthroughs, power clinical trials, and transform next generation precision medicine.  

Global implications: a scalable liquid biopsy for HPV-related cervical cancer 

Another common theme across the sessions at PMWC was focused on the transformative potential of liquid biopsy in early cancer detection. Most clinical practices use blood as a sample type; however, many experts highlighted the early potential of using less invasive sample types such as urine and saliva.  

 

Specifically, the advantages of using urine—collected using the Colli-Pee® urine collection device by Novosanis, a subsidiary company of Orasure Technologies, Inc.—as a liquid biopsy for HPV-related cervical cancer screening was discussed in a panel discussion. The panel discussion was moderated by Debra Fraser-Howze with panelists Dr. Belinda Nedjai and Elisabeth Adams.  

 

This discussion was equal parts an open call for researchers and other professionals in attendance to join in forming a women's health solution around pro-woman/user self-sampling and screening to power better outcomes related to HPV-related cervical cancer as it was a reporting out on progress in the UK and other geographies to inform potential next steps in the US.  

 

In this regard, the "solution" is a rich multi-stakeholder model that is mirrored by the panelists themselves spanning health economics and population health, molecular/precision initiatives and clinical science, and health equity/policy and advocacy.  

 

Conclusion 

PMWC 2024 proved to be an invaluable platform for gaining insights into the latest advances in precision medicine. In this blog post, we have touched on some of the insights from specific topics that were discussed in-depth at the conference.  

 

Attendees at PMWC delved into the potential of multi-omics in unraveling complex diseases, explored the transformative power of artificial intelligence in healthcare, and learned about the promising applications of liquid biopsy in non-invasive diagnostics. As always, the conference served as a catalyst for collaboration and knowledge exchange, paving the way for future breakthroughs in precision medicine. 


DNA Genotek is proud to offer products that support clinical and/or basic research needs. If you are interested in exploring or expanding your DNA and RNA sample collection abilities, learn more about our latest product, the OMNIgene™•SALIVA DNA and RNA collection device on our website or send us an email at info@dnagenotek.com. 

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