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Report calls for creation of a biomedical research and patient data network for more accurate classification of diseases, move toward 'precision medicine'
Date:11/2/2011

WASHINGTON A new data network that integrates emerging research on the molecular makeup of diseases with clinical data on individual patients could drive the development of a more accurate classification of disease and ultimately enhance diagnosis and treatment, says a new report from the National Research Council. The "new taxonomy" that emerges would define diseases by their underlying molecular causes and other factors in addition to their traditional physical signs and symptoms. The report adds that the new data network could also improve biomedical research by enabling scientists to access patients' information during treatment while still protecting their rights. This would allow the marriage of molecular research and clinical data at the point of care, as opposed to research information continuing to reside primarily in academia.

"Currently, a disconnect exists between the wealth of scientific advances in research and the incorporation of this information into the clinic," said Susan Desmond-Hellmann, co-chair of the committee that authored the report and chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco. "Often it can take years for biomedical research information to trickle to doctors and patients, and in the meantime wasteful health care expenditures are carried out for treatments that are only effective in specific subgroups. In addition, researchers don't have access to comprehensive and timely information from the clinic. Overall, opportunities are being missed to understand, diagnose, and treat diseases more precisely, and to better inform health care decisions."

"Developing this new network and the associated classification system will require a long-term perspective and parallels the challenges of building Europe's great cathedrals -- one generation will start building them, but they will ultimately be completed by another, with plans changing over time," said committee co-chair Charles Sawyers, a Howard Hu
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Contact: Jennifer Walsh
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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