So, what exactly is “precision medicine”?
President Barack Obama is launching a “Precision Medicine Initiative.”
He told the public this during the State of the Union address, and, surprisingly, politicians from both parties applauded after hearing the news.
It’s obvious Congress is on board, but you may have been wondering what does this initiative even mean?
David Roth, head of the Center for Personalized Diagnostics at the University of Pennsylvania, explains that precision medicine helps to diagnose individuals more accurately. Doctors are able to pinpoint the particular kind of illness a patient has and treat them more affectively, instead of using many different kinds of expensive medication as a process of trial and error. Roth used lung cancer as an example of how this medicine would work.
“Lung cancer isn’t one entity,” Roth said. “Lung cancer is many entities and we need to be able to figure out which type of lung cancer is present in this individual patient and then go after it with the particular targeted therapy.”
This initiative faces challenges, as precision medicine requires a lot of data collection.
“Being able to harness all of the data streams from radiology imaging, from pathology lab medicine, from wearable devices that monitor various things about your health, we need to be able to integrate all these data. This is a huge challenge,” Roth said.
Precision medicine is still in its beginning phase, but investment from the federal government would help move things along.
“We have a lot of the tools that we need, we have a reasonably good idea of where we want to go, and now we just need to have the funding to get there,” Roth said.