That’s a pretty heavy blog title, it’s the shortened version! Just wait until you open up the image below. Don’t worry I haven’t gone all ‘sciencey’ on you; I just want to share the amazing progress that Oxford Nanopore are making with the MinIOn and VolTRAX.
I’ve written about this before, quite a lot as it happens. I’m not obsessed yet but i do find the development of a piece of hardware that measure our DNA at home pretty incredible. This information shows that Oxford Nanopore really believe that this could be a reality and I applaud their vision.
People are starting to sit up and notice, I’ve had quite a few emails from clinicians and pharmacists around the world who are showing interest. The interest comes with slight reservation, this is disruptive technology and a huge step away from the safety net that we are all accustomed to.
Safety, that’s the key word isn’t it! As long as it’s safe; I agree, of course. But in the process I hope we’re going to break and bend a few rules, make the process feel a little uncomfortable. Find a better end result. That’s what disruptive technology is all about.
Think about the current process. We visit the hospital, wait, have blood taken. Come back a few weeks later, months in some cases, wait, see a consultant to be told that all is well (hopefully) and start the process again a few months later. It’s an uneconomical process on many levels. For many, who are several years into remission, it’s the constant reminder that they are sick.
It’s not a process that will work for everyone and it won’t work all of the time, but if we make the device safe to use it becomes a management tool for a chronic condition.
Whilst we’re getting our head around personalised treatment, we also need to manage patient expectations and the psychological impact of diagnosis and a lifetime of treatment. It isn’t a conversation that is happening enough and the NHS doesn’t have the funds to even consider it.
In this new world of taking tablets to treat cancer, the biggest cause of drug failure is compliance, people not taking their drugs. Would this new process, where the patient starts to take responsibility for the management of their disease, in a similar way that diabetics do, help or hinder compliance?
If the current system isn’t working, should we be even more disruptive when looking at compliance? When you ask why someone isn’t taking a tablet, it starts to become a very deep and psychological process; it’s personal. In order to save more lives we have to ask if hardware, software or a human touch is needed to solve the problem. The treatment is personal therefore the solution to any problems have to be personal too.
When I think of MinION or VolTRAX I can think of 20 different ways it could revolutionise treatment and diagnosis for CML: domestically and globally. That’s why I’m passionate about it and it’s why I don’t accept excuses and reasons not to do it.
If we’re fully committed to patient power, and that means accessing the right drugs as well as the right technology, we’re going to have to fight for it. Patient power means something might not fit into the already established status quo, there’s the fight.
It’s a fight worth having because it’s about us…