Cancer Research Center sees hope in Precision Medicine Initiative
COLUMBIA - President Barack Obama has announced the launch of an initiative that claims to bring U.S. residents closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes.
Obama briefly discussed the Precision Medicine Initiative during the State of the Union address Tuesday night, calling for funding for personalized medicine, which involves customizing treatments and diagnostics based on a person's genome.
"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. "In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable."
Dr. Robert Kazmierczak, senior investigator at the Cancer Research Center, said personalized medicine has a future in better diagnosing cancer patients. He said work on sequencing the human genome, discussed in Obama's initiative, started decades ago.
"Personalized medicine is a valid science and has great promise," Kazmierczak said. "If you can diagnose the cancer directly and give people the right treatment regimen, they will then have a better response to treatment. They will become healthy, and people will be able to be cured of and live with cancer instead of die from it."
Although the initiative shows the cure to cancer within arm's reach, Kazmierczak said the president's announcement probably targeted funding more than anything.
"We are still in the process of finishing the thoroughness and making sure that it can actually work correctly, and that it works with all kinds of treatments, and that it's safe. That work takes more funding so that we can actually do all the work."
Kazmierczak said he hopes the initiative is successful because better personalized medicines could benefit the targeted cancer treatments he studies at Columbia's Cancer Research Center.
The Cancer Research Center said it "welcomes and supports any and all efforts to raise funds to support cancer research."