The federal government has now taken a leading role in making the promise of Precision Medicine a reality through an initiative opened the door to a new era of genetic medicine on Thursday. Generally speaking, Precision Medicine is the capability to individualize medical treatments for each patient based on the minute details of a specific diagnosis. It uses a person’s genetic information, as well as a host of other personal information, to create an individualized treatment based on a specific diagnosis.
Precision medicine is a relatively new term to the general public. But, the underlying concept has been recognized by the healthcare industry for quite some time. It is generally thought that Precision Medicine could lead to cures for diseases that have varied expressions based on the individuality of the patient and are now considered incurable. Cancer and Alzheimer’s diseases are two such notable diseases that afflict millions in the United States alone. There are also a host of other genetic-based diseases that confound current medical treatments but for which it is hoped that Precisions Medicine could usher in a cure. Many medical experts and politicians believe that Precision Medicine could revolutionize health care. Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said precision medicine is “one of the most exciting new frontiers in medicine.”
“If you send a sample of blood or a tumor biopsy to different genetic testing laboratories, you can get different results,” said Marc L. Salit, the leader of a genome measurement group at the institute. “While largely in agreement, they may have significant differences. Now, for the first time, we have a standard to check the reliability and quality of gene sequencing.”
Precision Medicine uses devices known as DNA sequencers to speed up the process of biomedical research and discovery. This enables scientists to zero in on genetic mutations that are believed to cause specific diseases and devise treatments tailored to the genetic characteristics of individual patients. Precision Medicine tests and treatments are quickly moving from medical laboratories into the practice of medicine. Since the human genome was first sequenced in a high profile scientific race during the Clinton administration, hundreds of genetic mutations that appear to increase the risk of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s and cystic fibrosis, have been identified. But, the medical industry and its government regulators have not yet come up with standards for testing and diagnosis. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has now announced the creation of “reference materials” to serve as a calibration standard for DNA sequencing machines and their related analysis software in the process of analyzing a person’s genetic blueprint, or genome.
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