Personalised medicine increases its activity by 40% in the last year and is becoming more decisive
Precision medicine and personalised medicine products or services have gone from representing 12% of total launches to 52% in 2020. Navarra, which is hosting Biospain 2021, is one of the pioneering regions in precision medicine in Spain.
Personalised and precision medicine is increasingly seen as the future of medicine and the most disruptive and relevant change in medical treatments for diseases such as cancer, among many others. This is proven by the fact that, in the last year, launches of precision medicine products or services in Spain have increased by 40%, reaching 52% of the total number of biotechnology products launched on the market, according to the annual report of AseBio, the Spanish Association of Bio companies.
Personalised medicine is the ability to predict a specific disease or the response to a specific treatment based on the individual characteristics of each patient. Since the beginning of drug research, it became evident that, given the same treatment, the individual response was different, even with the same doses. Precision medicine has brought about a paradigm shift in the way healthcare is delivered, incorporating more effective and safer diagnostic and treatment strategies.
The government approved a two-year 77.3-million-euro plan for science and innovation last year, which includes a personalised medicine strategy, coordinated by the Carlos III Institute of Health (ISCIII), which leads three of the advanced plans in precision medicine: Predictive Medicine, Data Science and Genomic Medicine.
However, as Dr. Raquel Yotti, director general of the ISCIII, says, "this is only a small part of the work that needs to be done; it is necessary to have a strategy that integrates the needs and opportunities in the health, scientific, industrial, economic, and training fields, among others. For this reason, the government is promoting the development of an ambitious strategy that will require the participation and contributions of all sectors".
But precision medicine will also have a very important strategic space in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan (PRTR), where, as Yotti points out, "it will also be possible to deploy large strategic projects aimed at precision medicine and advanced therapies, with the need to incorporate industrial leadership and private investment".
In Spain, Navarre is one of the regions that has been developing a firm commitment to personalised medicine over the last five years to become a leader at the national level. "Spain is at a good starting point to face the challenges that this paradigm shift entails, but Navarre is in an advantageous position to lead its implementation at national level. The region has extensive experience in pilot programmes through the call for strategic projects in genomics and advanced medicine, both in basic research and healthcare, with specialised staff and state-of-the-art infrastructure," says Gonzalo Rodríguez Ordóñez, director of personalised medicine and laboratories at Nasertic, the public company of the Government of Navarra.
In 2016, this was defined as one of the Challenges in its Smart Specialisation Strategy and, consequently, an interdepartmental strategy has been deployed whose mission is to promote the development of a new way of doing medicine centred on citizens. "Navarra strategy aims to provide improved healthcare based on the study of the human genome, as a valuable argument for bio-health research and innovation, and as a tool for economic development that makes it sustainable, within an environment of safe, ethical and equitable technological expansion," adds Ángel Alonso Sánchez, scientific coordinator of the Navarra Strategy on Personalised Medicine in the Government of Navarra.
According to Pilar Nicolás, Permanent Doctoral Researcher of the G.I. Chair in Law and the Human Genome at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), "it is a good thing that the personalised medicine strategy is being promoted by the public administration and that it is being done in a global manner, addressing its different implications and listening to different agents who have been able to debate and reach a consensus", adding that precision medicine "is an opportunity to improve care, promote scientific research and a driving force for development".
In total, 10 research projects in genomics and advanced medicine (GEMA) have been promoted, worth almost 19 million euros, which have advanced the knowledge applied to genomics in different diseases. At the same time, new university degrees in personalised medicine and data science have been approved at the UPNA to promote the training required for the development of this health technology.Focused on the development of personalised precision medicine in cancer, DIANA is one of the initiatives promoted by the Department of Economic and Business Development of the Government of Navarra, which has achieved significant advances in the development of diagnostic techniques.
"Important results have been achieved that have led to the development of new treatments for cancer patients, studies of prognostic factors and the development of new sequencing technologies. All of this has had an impact in placing Navarra as one of the pioneering regions in precision medicine in Spain", explains Doctor Felipe Prósper Cardoso, director of the Cell Therapy Area, co-director of the Haematology Service and specialist in Haematology and Oncology at the Clínica Universidad de Navarra.
It is precisely in Navarra where Biospain 2021 will take place, the most important annual event in the biotechnology sector, which will bring together numerous experts and specialists in personalised medicine."The ecosystem that emerges thanks to Biospain favours close contact between research centres and multiple opportunities for collaboration. It is also a great opportunity to learn about the situation and potential of the national biotechnology sector and new areas of research and innovation," said Gonzalo Rodríguez Ordóñez.
Biospain 2021 will be held from 27 September to 1 October 2021 in hybrid format at the Palacio de Congresos y Auditorio de Navarra-Baluarte in Pamplona-Iruña, in collaboration with the Government of Navarra and Sodena (Sociedad de Desarrollo de Navarra) and with the support of platinum sponsors ICEX España Exportación e Inversiones and Merck.