T

he many proponents of precision medicine have long promised a world where terms like “lung cancer” and “melanoma” are rendered quaint by the awesome power of genomics. And the FDA, with its latest approval, just endorsed that vision of the future.

The agency cleared Merck’s blockbuster cancer drug Keytruda to treat any solid tumor with one of two genetic abnormalities, marking the first time the FDA has granted such an agnostic approval. There are, of course, caveats — the mutations are rare, and Keytruda can be used only after a prior treatment has failed — but it’s a milestone approval nonetheless, and one that will be heartening to some forward-thinking biotech companies.

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