US President Obama to unveil 'precision medicine' drive

President Barack Obama will propose that the US government plow US$215 million into "precision medicine" research, a field proponents say can advance the treatment of diseases like cancer and diabetes. -- PHOTO: AFP
President Barack Obama will propose that the US government plow US$215 million into "precision medicine" research, a field proponents say can advance the treatment of diseases like cancer and diabetes. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Barack Obama will propose on Friday that the United States (US) government plow US$215 million (S$291 million) into "precision medicine" research, a field proponents say can advance the treatment of diseases like cancer and diabetes.

The funding would be used in part to collect gene, chemical, lifestyle and other data from one million volunteers.

Scientists believe that vast bank of information could then lead to better classification of diseases - based on molecular causes rather than symptoms - as well as tailored treatment that replaces a "one size fits all" approach.

The bulk of the money, US$200 million, would go to the National Institutes of Health and its affiliate the National Cancer Institute.

"Most medical treatments have been designed for the 'average patient', the White House said in a statement.

"As a result... treatments can be very successful for some patients but not for others.

"Advances in precision medicine have already led to powerful new discoveries and several new treatments that are tailored to specific characteristics of individuals," it added.

"Translating initial successes to a larger scale will require a coordinated and sustained national effort." The proposal is part of Mr Obama's 2016 budget plan, which would first have to be approved by a hostile Republican-controlled Congress.

During his recent State of the Union address, Mr Obama said he wanted "the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine".