President Obama in his State of the Union address vowed to fund more research into cures and treatments for devastating diseases including cancer and diabetes.
“I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine – one that delivers the right treatment at the right time,” he said Tuesday night in his prepared remarks.
The approach is known as the precision medicine initiative and is designed to deliver new and more effective treatments for diseases. While Obama offered only sparse details on the initiative and didn’t say how much it would cost, his declaration drew applause from members of his own party.
Precision medicine not only will deliver cures, Obama said, but will “give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.”
Obama referenced the case of Bill Elder, who attended the address and sat next to First Lady Michelle Obama. Elder was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at age 8, when people with the disease were not expected to live into adulthood. Elder is now 27 and a third-year medical student. He was successfully treated with Kalydeco (ivacaftor) through a collaboration between researchers and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Emerging technologies, big data, and increased pressure to keep health care costs reasonable have created a major opportunity for the advancement of precision medicine.
“There are companies that will benefit in terms of the ability to do more targeted drug development based on the information that comes out of a project like this, and there are companies that are gong to benefit in terms of the ability to do more targeted clinical trials as well,” said Joseph Panetta, president and CEO of BIOCOM.
But the real winners would be patients. “The remarkable ability of our nation’s researchers to advance precision medicine to hone targeted treatments to improve individual patient outcomes is another compelling example of what can be achieved through public-private partnerships,” said Mary Woolley, Research!America president and CEO. She said that Elder’s story “shows that scienc can deliver breakthroughs for patients with cystic fibrosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.”