According to 2017 data from the Indiana State Department of Health, about 2.4 million Indiana residents—or two out of every five people living in Indiana—will eventually develop cancer. That’s why Precision Health researchers have ambitious plans to develop curative therapies for at least one cancer. Disease research teams have concentrated their efforts specifically on multiple myeloma, triple negative breast cancer and childhood sarcoma. Through the IU Precision Health Initiative, the IU School of Medicine’s partner hospital system, Indiana University Health, will soon administer CAR T-cell therapy to its first adult patient, who is a relapsed diffuse large B cell lymphoma patient. IU Health is now the only approved site in Indiana to administer FDA-approved CAR T-cell therapies, which are widely considered by some as a cure for certain types of leukemia and known for improved remission rates in certain lymphomas. Pediatric patients are expected to be able to receive CAR T-cell therapy as early as this fall at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, as a result of the IU Precision Health Initiative.
In addition to curing diseases, IU researchers have said they would prefer to prevent them. Chronic diseases are among the most prevalent and costly health problems in Indiana. According to the State Department of Health, Indiana has significantly higher rates than the national median for a variety of chronic diseases, with a large majority of the state’s residents affected by one or more chronic health issues. To help combat this poor state of health, Precision Health researchers are focused on developing precision-based strategies for the treatment and, ultimately, the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and Type 2 diabetes—both chronic diseases and among the top seven leading causes of death in Indiana in 2016.