In 2017, researchers are making precision health a priority

The incoming CEO of a nonprofit associated with Indiana University said his organization is investing heavily in precision medicine with the hope that it will provide a pathway to better care.

The Regenstrief Institute, which supports informatics research, is making precision health a priority moving forward, the organization’s new CEO Peter Embi told Healthcare Informatics. Specifically, the nonprofit research group wants to help bring “impactful information to the right person at the right place at the right time based on molecular and personal information and their phenotype.”

Embi added that the institute’s close ties with Indiana University’s Health Information Exchange provides access to “an unparalleled set of data” along with clinical relationships with IU’s health system.

Meanwhile, researchers at Dana Farber and the Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center have released a new study that uses genetic testing to improve diagnosis and treatment options. Based on clinical testing of more than 200 tumors, researchers found that genetic markers could help clinicians decide which drugs or therapies to use.

“The importance of genomic profiling in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric brain cancers is reflected in the World Health Organization’s recent decision to classify such tumors by the genetic alterations within them, rather than by broad tumor type,” co-senior author of the study, Susan Chi, M.D., said in the release. "Targeted therapies are likely to be most effective when they’re matched to specific abnormalities within tumor cells. Our findings show that precision medicine for pediatric brain tumors can now be a reality.”

Researchers are exploring the effects of genetic testing following the announcement of President Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative, which some have called a “turning point in medicine.” The 21st Century Cures Act recently provided an additional $1.4 billion in funding for the initiative. Recently, outgoing FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf said a new regulatory framework by the agency will allow for advancements in next-generation sequencing.