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Genetic Technologies and Personalized Medicine as an Industry Growth Driver

9 June

The session ‘Healthcare of the Future: Gene Technologies and Personalized Medicine as an Industry Growth Driver’ was held as part of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum’s business programme. The expert discussion part of the ‘New Technology Frontiers’ track.

The event was attended by Deputy Minister of Health of the Russian Federation Tatyana Semenova, Head of the Federal Medical-Biological Agency of the Russian Federation Veronika Skvortsova, Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District Governor Dmitry Artyukhov, Raphael Recanati Genetic Institute – Beilinson Director Lina Basel Salmon, BGI Group Vice President Ning Li, Mother and Child Group General Director Mark Kurtser, Delovaya Rossiya (Business Russia) Chairman and R-Pharm Group Chairman of the Board Alexey Repik, SOGAZ MEDICINA Group of Clinics General Director Vladislav Baranov, Takeda Russia Medical Director Dmitry Koloda, Novartis Gene Therapies General Manager of Europe, Middle East, and Africa Mike Fraser, and others. The session was moderated by Sergey Kutsev, Director of the Research Centre for Medical Genetics and Chief External Expert in Medical Genetics at the Russian Ministry of Health.

The development of gene therapy technologies in medicine is undergoing a rapid surge. Genome sequencing is widely used in health management programmes to detect diseases at an early stage and provide effective therapy. Advanced digital technologies are being increasingly actively introduced when organizing diagnostics, treatment, and prevention of hereditary pathology. The widespread clinical use of cell and gene technologies in modern medicine has opened up unprecedented possibilities in the battle against diseases once thought to be incurable. Meanwhile, issues surrounding the acceptability of altering the human genome have struck a nerve, raising social and ethical questions regarding interference in human evolution.

The widespread introduction of cellular and gene therapy technologies into clinical practice today creates unprecedented opportunities for medicine in combatting diseases, including rare (orphan) ones. In Russia, diseases are considered to be rare if they have a prevalence of no more than 10 cases per 100,000 people. Up to 90% of rare diseases are hereditary or congenital. About 5% of the Russian population has hereditary and congenital diseases, and about half a million Russians suffer from serious diseases that lead to disability.

If untreated, the progression of a disease leads to disability and even death. The late diagnosis of orphan diseases is a challenge for the entire global medicine industry. Takeda Russia Medical Director Dmitry Koloda said that even in countries with well-developed healthcare systems, a patient who is up to 8 years old on average cannot receive a correct diagnosis. “The term ‘diagnostic odyssey’ has even appeared, when a patient goes to doctors, trying to find a specialist who will help him. We are actively involved in projects that reduce the time required to give a diagnosis: in Russia we have a large diagnostic programme jointly with leading scientific institutions and partnerships with major laboratories. This year, we expect to be able to help around several thousands of patients get the correct diagnosis. As for digital diagnostics, Takeda has a pilot project in Russia with the Association of Medical Geneticists to analyse electronic medical records. A pilot project in eight regions of Russia has already produced its first results. We hope very much that this year we will be able to successfully scale up this project in other regions.”

The development of gene technologies is undoubtedly a matter of national security, and represents great medical progress. However, the need for government mechanisms to protect the rights and freedoms of human beings is clear. The session participants will discuss which achievements in the realm of health diagnostic systems, innovative treatment algorithms, and medicines have been driven by the development of gene technologies, what real and prospective applications gene technologies have in clinical practice, what innovative genetic studies are being conducted in Russia, what diseases they could help prevent in the near future, and what objectives the Federal Genetic Technologies Scientific and Technical Development Program is achieving.

The session was supported by Takeda.

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