21 June 2010

Personalized medicine and genomics at the International Economic Forum

The introduction of genomics achievements will change the face of medicineRIA News
The achievements of genomics related to the decoding of the human genome will make medicine more personalized in the near future, but there are both scientific and economic obstacles on this path, according to the participants of the panel session "What after the genome?", which took place on Friday at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

Opening the panel session, Geoffrey Carr, Science and Technology editor of The Economist magazine, invited its participants to discuss the directions and prospects for the development of genomics, as well as the possibilities of its practical application in medicine.

The director of the Bioengineering Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Academician Konstantin Scriabin, in his speech noted that the decoding of the genome, which was completed at the end of 2009 at the Kurchatov Institute scientific Center, cost about 40-50 thousand dollars, while the first genome in history was decoded for more than 3 billion dollars.

"I am sure that in two or three years... the cost of decoding one genome will be 1 thousand dollars," Scriabin said.

He also noted that within the framework of the international consortium for the study of cancer, in three years about 24 thousand genomes of patients with this diagnosis will be collected, which, as the academician hopes, will reveal genetic differences in sick and healthy people that can cause the disease.

According to Scriabin, the main problems in this area may be legal and ethical issues related to the protection of information about human health and its genome, as well as technical aspects, in particular, the need to store a large amount of information. According to the scientist, now the Kurchatov Institute is working on decoding 60 genomes using a supercomputer, which is loaded by 75% during decoding.

As noted by the head of the laboratory of the Institute of Molecular Genetics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor at Rutgers University (USA) Konstantin Severinov, some aspects of the development of genomics may overshadow the picture somewhat. According to him, science failed to achieve the results that society expected, because these expectations were initially overstated.

In addition, progress in this area in recent years has been provided mainly by technological rather than scientific development, and limited funding forces a choice between supporting high-performance technological research on genome decoding and more complex scientific projects based on research hypotheses.

The Chief Executive Officer of Burrill & Company, Steven Burrill, stressed in his speech that the cost of genome decoding is decreasing much faster than information technology once developed. According to him, already now the cost of reading one genome is estimated at several thousand dollars. If we imagine that in the next one or two years the cost of decryption will decrease to $ 100, we can get a very large database containing information about the genome of every inhabitant of the Earth.

"We will see a world of targeted treatment, individualized medicine... This will change the nature of healthcare," Burrill said.

Evgeny Zaitsev, General Partner of Helix Ventures, added that now is a very good time to invest in biotechnology and medicine, despite the recession: according to him, many large companies and significant breakthroughs of recent times occurred in the 1980s, when there was also an economic downturn.

"Innovations in this area are largely driven by the possibility of market application (results)... We need to look at it from a market point of view," Zaitsev said.

He also added that there are already quite a lot of venture funds in Russia, but they do not always have enough work experience, and this field of activity in the country should be integrated into the world in order to use proven technologies and expertise.

His colleague, CEO of Binnopharm CJSC Maxim Uvarov stressed that innovations and investments in them need the support of the state.

"It is necessary to create a certain field for these investments to appear in our country," Uvarov said.

Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru21.06.2010

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