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'Right Treatment, Right Time' in the State of the Union

During his State of the Union address last night, US President Barack Obama announced 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."

This, he added, will usher in "a new era of medicine  —  one that delivers the right treatment at the right time."

The White House is defining precision medicine as an "approach to treating illnesses that takes into account a patient's individual genetic make-up as well as molecular subtypes of diseases to improve the chances of successful treatment."

While the Verge notes that the details of the initiative are unclear, it adds that one of the guests at the speech was Bill Elder. According to the White House blog, Elder has cystic fibrosis, but has been treated with a drug that targets the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis in some patients. He now, the blog adds, is expected to live a long life.

"With genetic testing cheaper than ever, there's been a glut of genetic information available to doctors, but medicine has been slow to develop treatments that make use of this new data," the Verge says. "If the new initiative leads to treatments, it could mean a new front in the war on common diseases like heart disease."

The Scan

Panel Votes for COVID-19 Pill

A US Food and Drug Administration panel has voted to support the emergency use authorization of an antiviral pill for COVID-19 from Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, CNN says.

But Not Harm

New Scientist reports that UK bioethicists say that though gene editing may improve food production, it should not harm livestock welfare.

Effectiveness Drop Anticipated

Moderna's Stéphane Bancel predicts that that current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines may be less effective against the Omicron variant, the Financial Times reports.

Cell Studies of Human Chromatin Accessibility, SARS-CoV-2 Variants, Cell Signaling Networks

In Cell this week: chromatin accessibility maps of adult human tissues, modeling to track SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, and more.