In his State of the Union address this year, President Obama announced that he's launching the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI)—a new research effort to revolutionize how we improve health and treat disease. Until now, most medical treatments have been designed for the "average patient. "As a result of this "one-size-fits-all" approach, treatments can be very successful for some patients but not for others.
Precision medicine, on the other hand, is an innovative approach that takes into account individual differences in people's genes, environments, and lifestyles. It gives medical professionals the resources they need to target the specific treatments of the illnesses we encounter, further develops our scientific and medical research, and keeps our families healthier.
"We have an incredible opportunity to advance research and make new medical breakthroughs through precision medicine, which tailors disease prevention and treatment to individuals based on genetics, environment, and lifestyle," says Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.
Advances in precision medicine have already led to powerful new discoveries and several new treatments that are tailored to specific characteristics, such as a person's genetic makeup, or the genetic profile of an individual's tumor. This is helping transform the way we can treat diseases such as cancer: Patients with breast, lung, and colorectal cancers, as well as melanomas and leukemias, for instance, routinely undergo molecular testing as part of patient care, enabling physicians to select treatments that improve chances of survival and reduce exposure to adverse effects.