During the State of the Union address, President Barack Obama announced his new “Precision Medicine” initiative to deliver new and more effective treatments for diseases, such as cancer and diabetes.
In his address, Obama urged Congress to increase research funding to support investments in precision medicine, a growing field of care in which treatments are tailored to an individual patient.
Precision medicine, also known as personalized medicine, gets rid of the “one-size-fits-all” approach to medicine. Precision medicine targets individuals who will benefit most from certain treatments by identifying the genetic cause for a disease in a specific group of people. He said that he wants the country to lead a new era of medicine that provides the right treatment at the right time.
Precision medicine includes sequencing the genes of patients to help doctors choose the appropriate drug to fight it, as well as sequencing genes to discover the root causes of other diseases. This strategy has helped reverse cystic fibrosis (CF) in some patients, including Bill Elder, who attended the address seated next to First Lady Michelle Obama. Elder was diagnosed with CF when he was eight, when patients with the disease commonly only lived to early adulthood. Elder, who is now 27 and is in his third-year of medical school, is among patients who have been successfully treated with Kalydeco (ivacaftor), which is approved in the US for patients with specific gene mutations.
Obama said that he is launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative in order to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), more than 1,800 genetic links to disease have been identified since the Human Genome Project, and there are more than 2,000 genetic tests for disease conditions. Researchers have been developing and looking into large databases of detailed patient records to understand the association between genetic variation and disease.
The President did not provide details of the initiative and how much it would cost, but expects these to be outlined in his fiscal 2016 budget, which will be released February 2.