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Obama proposes new Precision Medicine Initiative for genetic treatments

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In tonight's State of the Union, President Obama is calling out an interesting new area for American innovation: genetic medicine. The president's prepared State of the Union speech (released on Medium) calls for the creation of a Precision Medicine Initiative to target major diseases through innovative means. "Tonight, I’m launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes," the president says, "and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier."

The details of the president's proposal are still unclear, but precision medicine is already a growing trend within the medical industry, taken to mean treatments that are tailored to a patient's unique molecular or genetic characteristics. In the case of one of the president's State of the Union guests, the tactic was used to reverse the effects of cystic fibrosis, although the nature of the approach means that breakthroughs are usually not applicable to the population at large. With genetic testing cheaper than ever, there's been a glut of genetic information available to doctors, but medicine has been slow to develop treatments that make use of this new data. If the new initiative leads to treatments, it could mean a new front in the war on common diseases like heart disease.