France announced on Wednesday a €670 million plan to develop 'personalised medicine' to better treat treat treatment-resistant cancers, diabetes, and reduce the wandering of patients suffering from rare diseases. This announcement weighs heavily on French health policy.
This plan stems from the report "France Médecine Génomique 2025 : permettre l'accès au diagnostic génétique sur tout le territoire" (France Genomic Medicine 2025: enabling access to genetic diagnosis throughout the country) by Prof. Yves Lévy, President of the National Alliance for Life and Health Sciences and Inserm, which was presented to the Prime Minister during the day.
L’Routine analysis of the patient's genetic heritage, using new technologies, aims to eventually obtain faster and more accurate diagnoses in order to choose the most effective therapies, while avoiding unnecessary and costly tests.
It could also reduce the wandering of rare disease patients who are looking for a diagnosis to explain their health problems.
Other potential beneficiaries of the predicted increase in importance of these analyses are cancers, and first and foremost cancers with metastases, which are resistant to treatment. Genetic decoding of tumours enables better targeting of existing treatments and the identification and testing of new treatments.
Genomic medicine also provides a better understanding of common diseases such as diabetes, directing them towards more appropriate treatments.
Combined with genomics, precision medicine, which targets certain molecular abnormalities in the cancer tumour, has the potential to increase treatment options and their effectiveness. Unlike chemotherapy and radiotherapy, targeted medicine can preserve healthy cells. This approach, especially immunotherapy, which boosts the immune system to destroy tumour cells, is revolutionizing cancerology.
France is going to install 12 high-speed genome sequencing platforms (complete DNA analysis) by investing 670 million euros over five years, in order to develop "personalized medicine, adapted to each person's human capital", declared Marisol Touraine, Minister of Health on Radio Classique.
In this "Genomic Medicine Plan, Medicine of the Future 2025", "France is strongly committed to the revolution of personalized medicine: to provide appropriate care (...), we need to know the genome of each individual. It is a battle to cure diabetes, cancer and rare diseases," she said.
Sequencing, which is the complete analysis of the order of genes that make up each person's DNA, is used to determine the risk of developing certain diseases and reactions to drugs, among other things.
The technique was illustrated with the first complete decoding of the genome of a human being in 2003.
Whereas the sequencing of this genome alone had cost nearly 3 billion dollars and required nearly ten years of work, it is now possible to have in a few days, for less than a thousand euros, the analysis or sequence of the "coding" part (that which controls the production of proteins) of the 23,000 human genes.
These 12 high-speed sequencing platforms will be gradually deployed along with two expert reference centres "that will be recognized worldwide," the Minister said. The planned investment of 670 million euros "will come partly from companies" in order to "enable France to lead this new battle of personalised medicine".
Companies such as Google, Apple and Facebook are interested in the field of genomic medicine. The latter is the subject of fierce international competition, in which the United States, China and Great Britain in particular are taking part, a country that launched a £300 million (€382 million) four-year plan at the end of 2014.