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Obama Proposes 'Precision Medicine'    01/30 06:17

   President Barack Obama is calling for an investment to move away from 
one-size-fits-all-medicine, toward an approach that tailors treatment to your 
genes.

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama is calling for an investment to 
move away from one-size-fits-all-medicine, toward an approach that tailors 
treatment to your genes.

   The White House said Friday that Obama will ask Congress for $215 million 
for what he's calling a precision medicine initiative. The ambitious goal: 
Scientists will assemble databases of about a million volunteers to study their 
genetics --- and other factors such as their environments and the microbes that 
live in their bodies --- to learn how to individualize care.

   As Obama put it in his State of the Union address, he wants the U.S. "to 
lead a new era of medicine, one that delivers the right treatment at the right 
time."

   Also called personalized medicine, this is a hot but challenging field in 
medical research. It's yielded some early results.

   For example, it's becoming more common for patients with certain cancers to 
undergo molecular testing in choosing which drug is their best match. People 
with a rare form of cystic fibrosis now can choose a drug designed specifically 
to target the genetic defect causing their illness. Some medical centers, such 
as the Mayo Clinic, have opened "individualized medicine clinics."

   But only recently has the cost of genomic sequencing dropped enough, and the 
computer power of medicine increased, to make it possible for large-scale 
pursuit of the approach, said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National 
Institutes of Health, which will lead the initiative.

   The hope is to "harness the power of science to find individualized health 
solutions," Collins said.

   In the short term, precision medicine holds the most promise for cancer 
because scientists already know a lot about the molecular signatures of 
different tumors, Collins said.

   Details of the initiative still are being worked out, but the NIH plans to 
use some large genomic studies already under way as well as new volunteers, he 
said.


(KA)


 
 
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