Obama Seeks Millions for 'Precision Medicine'

The hope is to build on gains like those made recently in treating cancer. Scientists know that cancer isn't just a single disease and it's become clear that even specific types of cancer, such as breast cancer, are truly separate diseases with separate causes.

"It's a game changer. It holds the potential to revolutionize the way we approach health in this country and, ultimately, around the world," said Dr. Jo Handelsman, associate director for science at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"Throughout history, most medical treatments have been designed for the average patient, meaning they can be highly effective for most patients but not others," she added.

"This is changing with the emergence of precision medicine, an innovative approach to disease prevention and treatment that takes into account individual differences in people's genes, environments, and lifestyles."Alexis BeeryFamily PhotoEven as toddlers it was clear something was wrong with Alexis and Noah Beery of Carlsbad, California. But doctors could not figure out what. Their mother, Retta Beery, said precision medicine could have changed that.

Obama's ask includes $130 million for the National Institutes of Health to develop a database of a million people whose genes, lifestyle and health would be studied and followed for years. Unlike previous such studies, the volunteers could share in learning from and using their data.

Another $70 million would go to the National Cancer Institute, part of NIH, to scale up research into how DNA is involved in cancer and how it can be used to treat cancer.twins Noah and Alexis from a childhood of misery and near-death.

"We were looking at wheelchairs. We were talking about feeding tubes," Beery said. "At end of the day, she couldn't sit up or swallow. Her body would tremble for hours at a time, her eyes would roll up in her head and you literally couldn't reach her." Noah was throwing up every day, but didn't seem to be as ill.

"We were starting to kind of lose her." They saw a specialist who started Alexis on a drug called levodopa or L-dopa, usually used to treat Parkinson's disease, and the effects were remarkable.

But at 14, Alexis regressed. She developed a severe cough that threatened to kill her. "While she's turning blue, I am driving to the emergency room, wondering if she was even going to make it," Beery said.

No one could figure out what was wrong. Luckily for the Beerys, Joe Beery, the father, worked for a company called Invitrogen.

"Our daughter was 14 years of age and we had a baby monitor so we could tell if she was breathing."

A team at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas did the sequencing — something that at the time cost tens of thousands of dollars. It turned out both twine had mutations that affected two important brain chemicals — dopamine and serotonin. It explained why the L-dopa worked for a while, but not completely.

Now both kids are taking pills that regulate their serotonin and dopamine, and they are normal 18-year-olds.Noah and Alexis BeeryFamily PhotoNoah and Alexis Beery were helped by precision medicine, their mom, Retta Beery, says.

"They are running track. They are playing sports. If you met them today, you would think they are the most amazing young people. But if they don't take their medication three times a day they would be in wheelchairs with feeding tubes unable to communicate with you," Beery said.

"We want everybody to be able to use this tool."

"The less funding that we have in this, the less we are going to accomplish," Beery said. "Scientists are going to start leaving their fields to go to other endeavors." reported about several dramatic breakthroughs in diagnosing rare illnesses.

"There may be people out there who may have inherited especially good health." Collins told reporters.

Maggie Fox is senior health writer for and, writing top news on health policy, medical treatments and disease.

She's a former managing editor for healthcare and technology at National Journal and global health and science editor for Reuters based in Washington, D.C. and London.

She's reported for news agencies, radio, newspapers, magazines and television from across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe covering news ranging from war to politics and, of course, health and science. Her reporting has taken Maggie to Lebanon, Syria and Libya; to China, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Pakistan; to Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia and to Ireland and Northern Ireland and across the rest of Europe.

Maggie has won awards from the Society of Business Editors and Writers, the National Immunization Program, the Overseas Press Club and other organizations. She's done fellowships at Harvard Medical School, the National Institutes of Health and the University of Maryland.

Source:   nbcnews
Source Link:   nbcnews

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