In an opening statement, Thierry Damerval, CEO of ANR, highlighted that “huge progresses have been made in 10 years since the first personalised medicine conference organised by the European Commission in 2011”. Notably, advances in genomic sequencing have paved the way for comprehensive analysis to improve prevention and treatment.
Irene Norstedt, Director for the People Directorate at the Directorate Research and Innovation (RTD) of the European Commission, considered encouraging to see that “OMICs technologies are becoming routine tools in life science research and increasingly in medical practices”. Additionally, Irene Norstedt stated that “personalised medicine is a much wider concept, including huge volume of information gathered around an individual, his/her environment, gender, medical history or social context to identify optimal treatments for patients” and, importantly, these data are increasingly used for “prevention, early diagnostic or reduction of harmful side effects”. Personalised medicine has the potential not only to “improve quality of the life of citizen” but also to help to “rationalise healthcare expenditure and create opportunities for business” she said. However, much remains to be done and “addressing global health challenges will be possible by building and strengthening cooperation between scientists, decision and policy-makers, industry, health professionals and civil society” said Thierry Damerval. While Irene Norstedt stressed the need for education and that “current and future healthcare professionals need to be made more aware of the potential of personalised medicine”.
Additionally, “personalised medicine needs to be global and mobilises regional, national and international organisations and leaders in coordinated actions” said Eduardo Cazap from the Latin American & Caribbean Society of Medical Oncology (SLACOM) and member of the scientific organising committee of this conference. Within mind to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages of the WHO’s Sustainable Development Goals, the field of personalised medicine needs “a harmonised vision and strategy between countries to adapt the possible outcomes to different regions of the world focused on access and equity” said Eduardo Cazap. Irene Norstedt acknowledged the work done by the ICPerMed and is glad to see how the consortium “took over the baton from the European Commission to really hold the flag very high and to drive the agenda of personalised medicine” and confirmed that “personalised medicine will continue to be of great importance in the future frameworks program Horizon Europe”.
In that sense, Ejner Moltzen, ICPerMed Chair, reported during the conference that ICPerMed creates new working groups to reflect better the fast-moving personalised medicine ecosystem in order to move the field even further. To this end, ICPerMed will “develop recommendations and guidelines to help the community to promote personalised medicine”. Ejner Moltzen announced the creation of a new ICPerMed Stakeholder Forum to “foster new partnerships and networks to share ideas and best practice examples, identify key issues and fields to be addressed and to establish new communication and dissemination channels”.
Finally, Eduardo Cazap emphasised that one key objective of the second ICPerMed conference was to demonstrate “how to implement the existing knowledge for the world population”. The program of the conference was built on and devoted to “the promotion of solutions, strategies and best practices needed for the implementation and demonstrate that personalised medicine is not only a theory but is becoming a reality for the benefit of patients, citizens and the society as a whole” said Eduardo Cazap.
The conference gathered international renowned speakers bringing their expertise on patient preferences, data harmonisation, personalised medicine implementation into healthcare systems, collaboration between academia and industry and on the value of personalised medicine for healthcare. ICPerMed also honoured best practices in personalised medicine research through the ICPerMed Recognition 2020 that aimed to recognise, encourage, promote and disseminate outstanding examples worldwide. Finally, ICPerMed showed the opportunities offered by personalised medicine to fight infectious diseases and in particular the COVID-19 during a dedicated session and discussed the latest scientific advances in diagnostics about the severity and susceptibility of COVID-19 infections.
Overall, the take home messages of this conference, to move personalised medicine forward, were 1/ to continue to enhance education and literacy of every component and stakeholder of the personalised medicine ecosystem, 2/ to increase the engagement and the mobilisation of the civil society, 3/ to develop further collaborations and initiatives throughout the globe, 4/ to facilitate innovation and the transfer of scientific knowledge, 5/ to implement personalised medicine globally and 6/ to pursue our effort toward sustainability.
The videos of the conference sessions are available on the ICPerMed website.