How Promising Is Precision Medicine? 

September 29, 2016

Precision medicine has the potential to allow physicians to tailor the treatments of illnesses like cancer, diabetes, mental health disorders to a patient’s specific biology, needs, and circumstances. As its methods become more sophisticated, experts hope to develop therapeutic plans tailored to each patient.

The science is currently not yet advanced enough to precisely target every individual’s health problems and provide a cure. Precision medicine is still in its infancy, and questions remain about how effective it will ultimately be at transforming healthcare.

The National Institutes of Health Precision Medicine Initiative (NIH PMI) is an attempt to bring that transformation closer. Announced in 2015 and launched this year, the effort has $215 million in funding and a goal of enrolling one million participants.

As a recent Medscape article highlighted, early precision medicine endeavors are promising. First-generation efforts involve decoding and grouping tumors by genetic features rather than by cancer type. Researchers have already identified relevant mutations on BRAF, EGFR, and ALK to classify melanoma and lung cancer.

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