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
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
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