Precision medicine in cancer care is one of those terms that you are likely to hear more. A simple definition is that it means trying to identify specific abnormalities of an individual's tumor cells that can then be targeted by a specific drug. Hence the term targeted therapy is often used in a similar way.
This article from Medscape gives a good overview and is written at a level that we non-scientists can understand.
5 Things You Need to Know About Precision Medicine
When it comes to diagnosing and treating diseases, one size does not fit all; patients with the same condition can have vastly different reactions to treatment.
The desire to unravel this medical mystery—why one patient responds to a therapy, or even recovers, while another does not—has made precision medicine a top research priority. A spotlight on this effort emerged in January 2015 after President Barack Obama announced the National Institutes of Health Precision Medicine Initiative (NIH PMI) to bring us closer to "the promise of precision medicine—delivering the right treatments, at the right time, every time, to the right person." Overall precision medicine aims to provide tailored healthcare as well as treatment strategies for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and schizophrenia that are based on a person's general health, gender, ethnicity, environment, lifestyle, and biology.
But precision medicine is still in its infancy, and questions remain about the achievability of these goals. Here, Medscape details five key features of precision medicine.
The NIH PMI is the most ambitious precision medicine effort to date. Launched earlier this year with $215 million in funding, the PMI aims to accelerate innovations in biomedical research, technology, and therapeutics that provide individualized prevention and treatment options for patients. The initiative will initially focus on cancer but ultimately will expand to all diseases. According to NIH Director Francis S. Collins, MD, PhD, and National Cancer Institute Director Harold Varmus, MD, starting with cancer makes sense given that "[r]esearch has already revealed many of the molecular lesions that drive cancers" and shown that "each cancer has its own genomic signature." In fact, studies that pair specific
patients with specific treatments are already underway. The large-scale MATCH (Molecular Analysis for Therapy Choice) trial, in particular, will sequence and classify thousands of solid tumors and lymphomas by their significant genetic mutations and target treatments to those abnormalities.
Read more: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/869211_print
If you want to go right to the source, this is the link to the NCI page about precision medicine in cancer: