Last November, almost a year ago, the Government approved the strategic project for the recovery and economic transformation (PERTE) of Salud de Vanguardia. A plan that foresees mobilizing more than 1,469 million euros of public and private investment and that has precision personalized medicine as its great standard: a way of treating patients that incorporates genomic data and combines it with clinical dataradiological, environmental exposure, lifestyle or socioeconomic factors to have the most accurate and integrated information on the patient.
Precisely on personalized medicine, one of the most interesting round tables that have taken place in the III Observatory of Health of EL ESPAÑOL and Invertia has dealt and in which they have participated Angela Perezfounder and VP of Business Development at Health in Code and Elijah Saavedra, Director of Operations of Unilabs. Both experts have warned of the need for specialists in different areas to achieve the exponential qualitative leap that advances in, for example, precision diagnosis will entail.
But why is personalized medicine a revolution? “Increasingly, medications are more personalized, and this means that adverse effects are fewer and fewer. Medications go directly to the patient,” explained Saavedra. “The genomic data and all the research carried out over the years, collecting data, processing and analyzing it, has allowed us to discover mechanisms and know if patients may be sensitive to a certain treatment or not“Perez pointed out.
Both experts have placed special emphasis on the large amount of information and data that surrounds this innovative area of medicine. The key to being able to develop it, precisely, is the proper handling of them. “We live in a world in which there is more and more information, more than we are able to process, and the key is in that personalization, integration and interpretation of data”. Artificial intelligence and ‘big data’ appear here as “fundamental” allies for direct application to the patient.
Is diagnosis expensive thanks to these processes and tools? Well, it depends on the way you look at it. Of course, the sooner treatment for a diagnosed disease is started, the better. “Many times there is talk of something expensive or cheap, but it must be understood from the point of view of the entire process. This type of investment can greatly reduce the cost of the entire process and alleviate the suffering of many people“, said the Director of Operations of Unilabs.
[Acceda aquí a toda la información del III Simposio del Observatorio de la Sanidad]
In any good diagnosis, two other fundamental variables come into play that are essential in personalized medicine: reliability and the time with which we are able to anticipate. In fact, as the experts have stated, a month’s delay in starting cancer treatment can translate into a 13% increase in mortality. Hence, the popularization and democratization of genetic diagnosis is one of the great hopes in the fight, for example, against cancer.
“Genetic diagnosis is having a great development because more and more applications, interpretations and information are emerging, and it provides an interesting value: in some way, it does not change, and when an analysis of this type is done, it is valid for life. Genetic tests are a bank of information And they have a very interesting timeless factor.”
For this reason, the PERTE de Salud de Vanguardia has been a great accolade for the companies that are dedicated to it. “These kinds of measures are what we need. If we want to mobilize initiatives, funding is essential“But it is necessary to go one step further. Experts have also called for the existence of shared databases, the existence of a repository in which the family history of a patient, life habits and genomic data can be known and “All this will allow us to define strategies”.
Now, as the experts themselves have repeated throughout the round table, it is necessary to incorporate “super-specialized” professionals into companies to continue developing this field of medicine. “It is very difficult to implement this type of initiative without the right talent and without innovation“said Saavedra. “There is a lack in these segments. We are talking about radiologists and pathologists. Talent is necessary and will be fundamental in the development of this segment. Personalized medicine finds it very difficult to progress if there are not enough professionals to apply it.”
This has also been confirmed by the founder and vice president of Business Development at Health in Code. “There are positions [puestos en la compañía] that are permanently open and that have to do with bioinformatics, engineering, oncologists, cardiologists, oncogeneticists, cardiogeneticists…”, he explained. “We have to get the most out of the data, but sometimes we don’t even take advantage of it”, he finalized.