China’s Decoding Citizens’ Genes.
Precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person. This approach will allow doctors and researchers to predict more accurately which treatment and prevention strategies for a particular disease will work in which groups of people. It is in contrast to a one-size-fits-all approach, in which disease treatment and prevention strategies are developed for the average person, with less consideration for the differences between individuals. Although the term “precision medicine” is relatively new, the concept has been a part of healthcare for many years. For example, a person who needs a blood transfusion is not given blood from a randomly selected donor; instead, the donor’s blood type is matched to the recipient to reduce the risk of complications. Although examples can be found in several areas of medicine, the role of precision medicine in day-to-day healthcare is relatively limited. Researchers hope that this approach will expand to many areas of health and healthcare in coming years. The National Institutes of Health in early 2016 said they would enrol 79,000 volunteers by the end of that year toward what it hopes will be a one-million-patient “precision medicine” study of the genetic causes of diseases by 2022. The NIH and the White House launched the $215 million precision medicine initiative two years ago as an effort to find genetic patterns of cancer and other diseases. The centrepiece of that initiative is the one-million person cohort by the end of 2022, and the NIH said it has awarded an initial grant to Vanderbilt University to explore the best way to recruit volunteers for the study. “Precision medicine” refers to using the accumulation of genetic information to help tailor treatments to a specific patient. Credit: National Institutes of Health, The Wall Street Journal.
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