Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration released a new site to encourage community-based exploration of genomic information. Scientists can use PrecisionFDA to access previously sequenced genomes, share their results with other members of the community, and solicit both feedback and advice.
The initiative is part of the Obama Administration’s $215 million “Personalized Medicine” effort, which aims to banish the “one-sized-fits-all” approach to medicine. The goal is to eventually make it possible for patients to receive treatment based on their lifestyle, DNA, and environment.
“Recognizing that each person’s DNA is slightly different, scientists can look for meaningful differences in DNA that can be used to suggest a person’s risk of disease,” FDA’s Taha A. Kass-Hout and Elaine Johanson wrote in a blog post to announce the initiative. “Ultimately, what we learn about these differences could be used to design a treatment tailored to a specific individual.”
Industry experts say that PrecisionFDA is a step in that direction. “It seems like a good idea,” said Hank Greely, director of the Center for Law and the Biosciences at Stanford University. “The idea of having good reference materials against which to measure the analytic validity of various tools, whether physical or computational, makes enormous sense. Without a good reference, you don’t know what you’ve got–a foot or an inch, an accurate sequencer or a poor one.”
The agency has been working on the site for several years, according to NextGov,, with help from a Silicon Valley-based startup called DNANexus. For this initiative, FDA has named over a dozen partners from the research and biotech community, including Stanford, 23andMe, Ilumina, and Roche.