What is the difference between precision medicine and personalized medicine?

Precision medicine is a more exact term for the targeted healthcare individualization of sub-populations. We are talking about utilizing data that incorporates multiple inputs beyond genetic information. It is not the literal creation of a drug or medical device that are unique to an individual patient, which there was concern that personalized medicine was being used to describe. Low-tech examples of precision medicine are prescription eyeglasses, allergy treatments, or blood transfusions. In each of these, the treatment is precisely aligned with the individual’s vision, allergies, or blood type. Today’s precision model is considerably more sophisticated however, involving electronic medical records (EMRs) data, self-reported biometric data, environmental factors and genetic information to synthesize these factors into an optimal treatment strategy for each patient.

What is the Precision Medicine Initiative?

The Precision Medicine Initiative is an unprecedented research initiative that will utilize patient-generated data to draw conclusions about how different people and groups respond to therapeutic interventions. In our current research model, relatively small groups of individuals with specific inclusion criteria participate in clinical studies. We take data from these patients and try to generalize across populations. The Precision Medicine Initiative will amass data from one million Americans who voluntarily agree to make their health-related information available. This will be used to create a massive personal information healthcare database that will include genetic biomarkers, clinical data, diagnostic tests, biometric data, geography, ethnicity, lifestyle, and many other factors.

The funding allocated to this initiative is being divided among several entities that will develop different components. For example, the NIH will develop the one million-person cohort of volunteers. The FDA is building a software platform and assembling an informatics community with specific expertise. Because there has already been a great deal of research into cancer genomics, the National Cancer Institute will receive funding to expand the research and include other data elements as well.