This State Just Surged Forward in the Race to Implement Precision Medicine

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Public-private partnerships are becoming the norm in medical data-sharing efforts to improve the treatment of diseases.

State governments are vying for leading positions in the precision medicine industry and California made a power play announcing a public-private endeavor helmed by the University of California, San Francisco.

Precision medicine is personalized, using patients’ genetic information integrated with electronic medical records to design tailored treatments for distinct biological subgroups—people with similar genes.

The California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine has $3 million in state startup funds to work with and builds on President Obama’s own initiative, launched with a $215 million investment at the National Institutes of Health. The latter plan is primarily geared toward developing more and better cancer treatments through public-private research partnerships.

“California is a world leader in path-breaking innovations,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in an announcement this week. “This initiative will bring together many of California’s brightest minds to integrate and analyze vast amounts of clinical, genomic, environmental and epidemiological data.”

The way the two-year initiative works is UCSF and UC Health will develop two to-be-determined demonstration projects in disease areas their system specializes in and solicit the assistance of industry partners. Other state precision medicine projects will be inventoried, and medical, technology, privacy, bioethics and intellectual property experts will ensure the smooth sharing of data.

California officials hope the collaboration will one day explain why people with the same disease respond differently to treatment and why certain diseases affect races differently.

“We’re building a Google Maps for health,” UCSF Dr. Atul Butte, who’s leading the initiative, told San Francisco Business Times. “It’s a modest amount of money. But it’s just the beginning.”

The California Healthcare Institute, which represents more than 275 biotechnology, medical device, pharmaceutical and research companies, applauded the state’s move.

Current and future data-sharing between the sixth largest university system in the U.S. and research institutes was of particular interest to CHI.

“Many of our CHI member companies, universities and research institutes are already working in the precision medicine space,” CHI CEO Sara Radcliffe said in a statement.

Partnerships with California-based Google, Genentech, Illumina and 23andMe may also be secured, Bio-IT World reported this week.

A model for sharing vast amounts of information is the New York City Clinical Data Research Network, which brings together 22 city health care systems and organizations aggregating data on about $6 million patients.

“For common conditions, getting broad data like this is phenomenal,” Principal Investigator Rainu Kaushal told Weill Cornell Medical College’s Newsroom. “For rare diseases or mutations, it’s even more valuable because you can get a significant sample size to study uncommon conditions.”

In Colorado, India-based Strand Life Sciences, which created a cancer tumor genetic sequencing test, set up its U.S. headquarters in the city of Aurora—bolstering precision medicine in the state, The Denver Post reported.

Elsewhere, the Cancer Institute of New Jersey is partnering with Meridian Health health system to expand clinical trials of precision medicine, thereby increasing patient treatment, according to The Daily Targum.

Dave Nyczepir is Route Fifty’s News Editor.

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