In 2015, President Obama announced the Precision Medicine Initiative, an ambitious effort to recruit and study one million individuals in the USA . With a goal of advancing personalized medicine, the President shines an important light on a concept that many in the research and medical communities have long appreciated. We will only get to true cures if we can move away from historical clinical disease definitions, based purely on symptoms to one more nuanced and linked to underlying biology, genetics and pathology.
One needs only to look into oncology for powerful examples of the impact of precision medicine. Many tumors are no longer described by affected organ but by specific genetic changes that may have triggered growth. Although much work still needs to be done – we certainly have not ‘cured’ cancer – translation of molecular biology into clinical practice has dramatically accelerated the development of treatments to the point that some cancers are now widely considered chronic disease .
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