Obama to Outline $215M 'Precision Medicine' Proposal

Reports say NIH would receive funds to collect DNA from 1 million volunteers, the National Cancer Institute would get research funds, and FDA would get support to regulate molecular diagnostic tests. The plans need funding from Congress.

This morning, President Obama is scheduled to outline the precision medicine plan called for in his State of the Union Address January 20, including a request that Congress approve $215 million to fund several initiatives, according to the Associated Press.

Leaders from several pharmaceutical companies, as well as patients and researchers, are expected to be on hand when the president fills in the details of the plan, which reportedly include $130 million for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a data-tracking program that will enlist 1 million volunteers and, more importantly, their DNA.

Reports this morning say other key pieces will provide $70 million in research dollars for the National Cancer Institute and $10 million to implement a previously announced regulatory initiative within the FDA, which seeks to bring order to the molecular diagnostics testing industry. FDA would also get an extra $5 million for more information technology.

The initiative, the work of NIH Director Dr Francis Collins, seeks to rapidly expand efforts to tailor treatment for cancer and other disease to each patient’s individual genetic profile. This involves both testing for that patient’s genetic characteristics and then aligning the results with a course of treatment. There have been many recent advancements in precision medicine; in his address, the president cited the example of cystic fibrosis, and there are numerous examples in different types of cancer.

But the power of this approach is in its infancy, most experts agree. Only recently has the cost of genomic sequencing fallen to the point to make large-scale pursuit possible, Dr Collins told the AP. The hope, he said, “is to harness the power of science to find individualized health solutions.”

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