Tucson CitizenTucson Citizen

Obama may boost genetic care

Treatment based on biological markers a vision

President-elect Barack Obama

President-elect Barack Obama

WASHINGTON – For years, scientists have held out hope that the rapidly evolving field of genetics could transform medical diagnosis and treatment, moving beyond a trial-and-error approach as old as the Hippocratic Oath.

But the vision of individualized treatment based on a patient’s genetic makeup and other biological markers has yet to materialize, even if better use of genetic information has led to advances in cancer care and other areas.

Now the pursuit of “personalized medicine” is expected to get a major push from the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama. As a senator, Obama introduced legislation to coordinate the sometimes conflicting policies of government agencies and provide more support for private research.

Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, D-R.I., has introduced legislation in the House that builds on Obama’s.

Obama is also interested in the role that personalized medicine could play as an element of changes in the broader health care system.

“The issue of getting the right treatment to the right person goes with his whole emphasis on health reform,” said Mark McClellan, a Republican health care expert.

Most prescription drugs are effective only in about 60 percent of treated patients, leading to a trial-and-error approach to treatment that not only may be more costly, but can put some patients at risk.

Among patients, the varying responses to medications may be linked to differences in genetic makeup that affect how the body processes a drug.

The practice of medicine could be streamlined if doctors had reliable ways of predicting which drugs would work on which individuals.

Citizen Online Archive, 2006-2009

This archive contains all the stories that appeared on the Tucson Citizen's website from mid-2006 to June 1, 2009.

In 2010, a power surge fried a server that contained all of videos linked to dozens of stories in this archive. Also, a server that contained all of the databases for dozens of stories was accidentally erased, so all of those links are broken as well. However, all of the text and photos that accompanied some stories have been preserved.

For all of the stories that were archived by the Tucson Citizen newspaper's library in a digital archive between 1993 and 2009, go to Morgue Part 2

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