Obama's 'precision medicine' plan to boost research, but faces hurdles

Precision medicine has been propelled by advances in two areas in particular: cancer and pharmacogenomics, the study of how DNA interacts with drug

Obama's 'precision medicine' plan to boost research, but faces hurdles

World Bulletin / News Desk

 

President Barack Obama's plan to put the United States at the forefront of individually tailored medical treatment should give a much-needed boost to research in the field but experts say it won't work without reforms to healthcare, including drug testing and insurance.

The administration is expected to give the first details this week on the "precision medicine" initiative that Obama announced in his Jan. 20 State of the Union address. Obama said he wanted the United States to "lead a new era of medicine, one that delivers the right treatment at the right time."

Precision medicine seeks to identify and treat the exact form of disease in patients based on their genome - the precise order of molecules in their DNA - as well as other factors such as the interaction of genes and environment, and the microbes in their body.

Rather than the current one-size-fits-all approach, drugs would be tailored to individuals, allowing doctors to target the precise form a disease takes in any individual and avoid administering drugs that may be ineffective or even harmful.

"We'd be able to make diagnoses and treatment calls at the level of the individual. We are very, very far from doing that, but the payoff would be fantastic," said biologist Keith Yamamoto, vice chancellor of research at the University of California, San Francisco, medical school.

If Obama's initiative is to work, a first step is to build a national database of genetic profiles so researchers can look for correlations with their medical histories.

A 2011 report from a panel of the National Academy of Science recommended collecting molecular data on millions of patients. It also called for a type-2 diabetes project to identify the amino acids in the blood of people who develop the disease, and assess how pre-diabetes becomes full-fledged.

Nearly four years later, neither study is under way.

Obama's initiative could breathe life into them, said two panel members who asked not to be identified.

 

 

Last Mod: 28 Ocak 2015, 08:49
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