“A technology and regulatory challenge for both public and private sectors”
The application of digital technologies in the medical field has already allowed significant improvements in the well-being of the world’s population, ensuring a considerable increase in life expectancy and quality.
Among the opportunities that new technologies offer in precision medicine, there is the possibility to predict, for each individual, the risk of hereditary diseases based on the analysis of a large amount of genomic and medical data, with the subsequent possibility to intervene and prevent them. In addition, Artificial Intelligence and HPC also enable the development of digital twins of humans (i.e., the virtual representation of an individual) to predict and treat diseases.
However, achieving the goals above outlined is not an easy task. Significant scientific challenges remain to be solved at the biological, medical and engineering level, together with considerable data access technical, organisational, political and ethical hurdles. Indeed, there is a risk that inadequate technology transfer and regulatory systems will undermine the process of transforming brilliant ideas and research into real and usable pharmaceutical and biotech products or medical procedures and solutions.
To develop the full potential of precision medicine overcoming the current limitations it will be necessary the collaborative support of the private and public sectors. Specifically, the public sector must create the conditions for secure access, validation and certification of process and to guarantee the public control of the systems, while keeping its capacity to innovate based on the basic asset: the data. The private sector, on the other hand, must contribute with their capacity to develop new technologies and medicaments.
But ultimately it is vital to create a “common ground” for the collaboration between the public and private sector to produce the required progress.
Progress in these domains has already delivered several “quick wins”, such as fast diagnoses for many rare diseases, new and more specific cancer drugs or personalised immunotherapies. In addition, mRNA Technologies have been fundamental to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic and may be strategic for cancer treatment. Much more will be soon available: current models based on AI/machine learning and simulations are accelerating drug development, disease diagnostics and clinical trials. The path versus personalized medicine is opening in front of our eyes.