The last few years of President Barack Obama’s administration have largely been characterized by his attempts to improve healthcare through the Affordable Care Act. However, in his State of the Union address, Obama discussed on another medical topic: “precision medicine”. If instituted, this apparent goal could mean an increased focus on biobanking, laboratory management software, translational research and other tactics. But what is precision medicine exactly?
Precision medicine generally refers to the use of genomics to choose treatments based on a person’s individual needs and DNA. However, it can also refer to medical devices that are specifically designed for a patient, such as 3-D printed implants that conform to an individual’s body. In his speech, Obama called precision medicine the next step in American medical innovation, saying “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.”
The White House has revealed few details about how the administration would pursue this goal. According to a document accompanying the speech, the initiative would likely take place through increased investment. However, in another speech, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Mathews, had spoken of working with Congress to promote “this promising avenue of scientific endeavor”, which could make actual legislation a possibility.
These two organizations are far from the first groups to focus on precision medication. For example, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s 21st Century Cures project, has included the field in their planned regulation changes and healthcare investments. A number of scientists, too, have stated that they are hopeful about the potential benefits more research, better diagnoses, and carefully selected treatments. However, to accomplish these goals, researchers and businesses will need to access the tools they need, such as laboratory management software and biorepository management systems, to organize and analyze the large quantities of data these tasks would require. Experts have already spoken of the need for affordable sequencing technology to help analyze patient DNA.
Fortunately, this may not be as impossible as it initially seemed: at least one genome sequencing manufacturer saw its shares increase after Secretary Mathew’s speech, and then again after the State of the Union Address. These stock prices have stabilized since, falling slightly, but the increase itself suggests that investors may be willing to see where precision medicine initiatives could take us. Read more. Read more like this.