News Article

DNA & Genomics: Building the Future of Healthcare

Thu, 09/06/2018 - 09:23

Genomic medicine is advancing at an accelerated pace and it is generating complex and changing scenarios that the industry and the government must face, sooner or later, Victor Saadia, Founder and CEO of BioCenter, told Mexico Health Summit 2018 during a panel discussion he moderated on Thursday at the Hotel Sheraton María Isabel in Mexico City.

Since its inception in the 20thcentury, genomics has evolved alongside the health industry and will only grow in importance, said panelist Xavier Soberón, Director General of INMEGEN. “Genomic medicine from its origin has evolved hand-in-hand with the health industry and in the future, it will continue to be key for transitioning into medicine with greater precision.”

Francisco Kuri Breña, Director of New Developments of Landsteiner, agreed: “Over a decade ago, the concept of genomic medicine did not exist as it does today. Genomic medicine relied on discovering new therapies for diseases that had no cure, but now the industry knows it can also serve to improve existing treatments with greater precision.”

With the evolution of genomics, the availability of applications has also increased. Now, “genomic medicine can improve healthcare in different areas such as early detection of diseases, greater personalized treatments, the possibility of improving efficacy and reducing the side effects of drugs and, finally, in identifying new drugs with greater speed,” said Soberón.

Despite the knowledge about the applications of the genomic medicine, there are still barriers hindering access and further development. José Campillo, former CEO of Funsalud, told the audience that there are two barriers related to the development of genomic medicine: the lack of a budget to support this medicine and the lack of access to information about it. He added that another barrier is that “the research and development of genomic medicine is so accelerated that it also represents a challenge for those who regulate it, as well as those who practice this science.”

Other panelists suggested that privacy of genetic information and the inherent challenges are also hindering the development of this science. The next step for genomic medicine and other areas of medicine will be the regulation of sensitive data and the generated information,” said Kuri-Breña. Added Soberón: “The immediate concern is going to be what information becomes private and what becomes public, as well as the criteria for who has and who does not have the right to this type of information.”

The importance of genomic information raises a serious question for the industry and the authorities, said Campillo. “How will the authorities draw the limits of science based on bioethics but also move toward improving treatments for diseases?” he asked. Kuri-Breña answered that “the possibilities and opportunities offered by genomic medicine are countless, and it is the task of the different players in the health industry, such as insurers and others, to rely on this knowledge to improve access to health and improve healthcare.” He continued: ”Genomic medicine is the medical science that has mot embodied the patient-centric model in its core. The closer the industry is to genomic medicine, the closer it will be to providing better and more precise medical care.”