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Precision Medicine in Multiple Myeloma

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Joined: Jun 2014

The American Society of Hematology published a statement this week on the White House’s proposed 2016 budget for a new Precision Medicine Initiative. The White House is asking Congress to approve $31.3 billion in NIH funding for a new Precision Medicine Initiative to identify genetic drivers of disease to provide more personalized treatment to patients.

So what exactly is precision medicine in myeloma?

Myeloma expert Dr. Ravi Vij, MD of Washington University defines both “personalized medicine” and “precision medicine” in a recent Myeloma Crowd Radio interview.

He tells us that personalized medicine is the goal to create targeted therapies that would work in a particular patient. For example, drug companies could create a drug for the 11;14 translocation that all 11;14 patients could then use for therapy. “You’re looking at a patient’s tumor and you are trying to get a drug specific to that patient,” says Dr. Vij.

You can imagine that if only 20,000 cases of myeloma are diagnosed per year and 16% of those are 11;14 patients, it may not be very attractive for a pharma company to aim for a highly specialized drug that takes 10+ years to develop and costs millions for 3200 patients per year. They you add complexities – a patient may have 11;14 and bad cytogenetics while others may have 11;14 and good cytogenetics, and personalized treatment becomes more difficult.

Precision medicine takes things one step further but has a possible advantage for all types of cancer patients. Read more..

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