On Wednesday, the Alliance’s Vice President of Public Policy Cynthia Bens spoke at a Congressional Life Sciences Caucus briefing about precision medicine on Capitol Hill. The briefing was hosted by Biocom and sponsored by Illumina.
The purpose of the briefing was to help attendees “learn about breakthrough advances in precision medicine, ongoing research, next-generation sequencing, applications to cancer and rare diseases, benefits to patients, impact on the U.S. health care system, and barriers to the large-scale adoption of these therapies and technologies.”
Bens focused on the potential role of precision medicine to assist researchers in developing therapies that will help treat and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. She noted that the number of people affected by this condition is expected to triple over the next three decades and finding effective treatments is an urgent national priority.
However, Bens added, a recent U.S. Food Drug and Administration report highlighted challenges with the current state of targeted drug development for Alzheimer’s disease. The report concluded that the “National Institutes of Health (NIH) and others are funding promising research in this area. For all but rare genetic forms of the disease, however, scientists have not yet confirmed that any potential biomarkers can accurately identify individuals who have Alzheimer’s, predict its clinical progression in specific patients, identify successful drug targets, or identify subsets of patients who might respond differently to different treatments.”
Despite the challenges, Bens believes that precision medicine offers opportunities for successful treatment of Alzheimer’s disease in the future. She discussed the ACT-AD Coalition’s efforts to raise awareness about precision medicine and Alzheimer’s disease, including an expert webinar on the subject and a meeting with the FDA and industry experts.
The briefing also included presentations by the following experts: Jill Mesirov, associate vice chancellor for Computational Health Sciences, University of California, San Diego; Alex Dickinson, senior vice president of Strategic Initiatives, Illumina; and Barry Lubarsky, senior director, Vertex.