The Precision Medicine Initiative: Data-Driven Treatments as Unique as Your Own Body

Watch Jo Handelsman, Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy, explain the Precision Medicine Initiative and its significance.

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The President's 2016 budget includes investments in an emerging field of medicine that takes into account individual differences in people's genes, microbiomes, environments, and lifestyles -- making possible more effective, targeted treatments for diseases like cancer and diabetes. That's incredibly significant, and this is why:

Right now, most medical treatments are designed for the average patient.

But one size doesn't fit all, and treatments that are very successful for some patients don't work for others. Think about it:

  • If you need glasses, you aren't assigned a generic pair. You get a prescription customized for you.
  • If you have an allergy, you get tested to determine exactly what you're allergic to.
  • If you need a blood transfusion, it has to match your precise blood type.

Enter Precision Medicine: health care tailored to you.

Precision Medicine is already leading to a handful of highly effective treatments tailored to individual patients. Here are a few Americans whose lives have already been changed by these treatments.

Take a look:

  • The drug ivacaftor treats the underlying cause -- not the symptoms -- of a particular genetic variation of cystic fibrosis.
  • A variety of cancer patients are now routinely undergoing molecular testing as part of their care -- and their doctors are choosing treatments based on this information.
  • Physicians at the University of Michigan 3D-printed a personalized tracheal splint that saved the life of a critically ill infant with a weak trachea.

Translating these successes to a larger scale will require a national effort.

And that's exactly what the President's budget invests in.

To push this effort forward, we’ll need all hands on deck, including patients, hospitals, industry, philanthropies, researchers, privacy experts, and others. Learn more about this exciting initiative here.

Learn more:

Related Topics: Health Care, Michigan