Genetics-based, personalized medicine has become all the rage in healthcare, but does the new technology really work and at what cost?

Those are the two points RTI International will seek to answer over the next two years.

The federal government is providing RTI researchers with nearly $750,000 to review the effectiveness and efficacy of genetics-based medicine.

A key point of the study will be preventive genetic tests for breast cancer and colorectal cancer.

The Centers for Disease Control awarded RTI a two-year contract totaling $349,675, a RTI spokesperson said.

The National Institutes of Health provided a $399,145 grant, she added.

“RTI researchers will develop mathematical models to identify the potential impacts of breast cancer and colorectal cancer screening tests and assess the threshold sensitivity and cost under which these tests are likely to be adopted,” RTI said.

Two genetics risk factors to be examined are for breast cancer – especially among women under age 40 – and colorectal cancer, the point being to determine whether personalized profiles help in indentifying who should be screened for the diseases.

“Personalized medical approaches targeted at preventing diseases can potentially reduce the need for high-cost treatments and improve the overall health of the nation,” said Sujha Subramanian, Ph.D., a senior health economist at RTI who is the lead investigator for both projects. “Therefore, there is an imminent need to assess the projected impact of personalized medicine on both health outcomes and cost.”

Subramanian said the results of the research could “provide a framework that can foster the use of these models to study the impact of personalized medicine on the cost-effectiveness of prevention for a wide range of diseases, including other cancers, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.”

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