WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday that his administration wants to launch a new push to use personalized genetic information to help treat diseases like cancer and diabetes.
Obama urged Congress in his address to boost research funding to support new investments in “precision medicine.” “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,” Obama said, noting the approach had helped reverse cystic fibrosis in some patients.
“Tonight, I’m launching a new precision medicine initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes – and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier.”
The sequencing of individual genomes, read-outs of a person’s complete genetic information, could speed scientific research and help drug companies and physicians tailor medicines to an individual’s genetic profile.
Using genomic data to identify which patients will benefit could save tens of billions of dollars now spent on ineffective drugs.
Obama’s call follows a move announced last year in England under which a company owned by the Department of Health aimed to sequence 100,000 whole genomes from National Health Service patients by 2017.
Reporting by Toni Clarke in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney