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State of the Union

Obama’s ‘Precision Medicine’ Means Gene Mapping

President Barack Obama called for a new initiative to fund personalized medicine Tuesday night, saying it could bring closer cures for cancer and diabetes.

Obama gave few details in his State of the Union message, but they're likely to involve more funding for the National Institutes of Health, which is already committed to research that combines genomics and treatments.

"Tonight, I'm launching a new Precision Medicine Initiative to bring us closer to curing diseases like cancer and diabetes — and to give all of us access to the personalized information we need to keep ourselves and our families healthier," Obama said.

"I want the country that eliminated polio and mapped the human genome to lead a new era of medicine — one that delivers the right treatment at the right time. In some patients with cystic fibrosis, this approach has reversed a disease once thought unstoppable."

Expect more details over the coming days, but the idea of precision medicine includes sequencing the genes of a cancer patient's tumor to help doctors choose a perfectly tailored drug to fight it, as well as sequencing genes to discover the root causes of other diseases.

State of the Union Address: Watch Full Speech 59:52

IN-DEPTH:

— Maggie Fox