National Precision Medicine Network

“A center that will be able through DNA analysis, to make early diagnosis of diseases even from the childhood of man will be a drastic and significant change in our daily life” he underlined in an interview with Nektarios Tavernarakis Chairman of the Board of Directors and director of the Central Directorate of the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (FORTH).
Q: What is a single precision medicine network and how many units are there in Greece?
Α: The Foundation for Research and Technology will participate actively, having a coordinating role in the pioneering European-level national network of medical Precision (personalised medicine), recently announced by the Yppeth’s research and innovation sector as a flagship initiative with a direct social benefit.
The aim of the network is to develop advanced diagnostic technologies and health services in order to identify the predisposition of the occurrence of a particular disease and to apply specialized treatment according to the unique characteristics of each Patient. For this reason, specialised units of gene and molecular DNA analysis will be created. Applying specially tailored treatment to each patient will be faster and more effective, with a significant advantage of saving resources. It is noteworthy that the services of the national medical Precision network will be accessible to all citizens through the National Health System (ESI).
Initially, the National Precision Medicine Network will focus on oncology and will consist of four precision medical units (one): Two in Attica, one in Thessaloniki and one in Crete. Forth has undertaken the coordination of the Unit of Crete and represents Greece in the pan-European network of personalised medicine for cancer. The initial funding will be greater than 5 million. € and the implementation period will be 2 years.
Q: What are the investigations of the unit of Crete?
Α: The precision medicine in Crete will operate in new installations of Forth, which are already formed for this purpose. It will include advanced latest generation equipment for DNA analysis and biomedical imaging. Crete, and in particular Heraklion, is the ideal place for the installation and development of the new medical precision unit as it combines the existence of excellent research and academic institutions with long experience in the fields of genomic research, Biomedical informatics, Genetic medicine and advanced medical imaging. The new medical precision unit of Crete will be clearly open and will seek close cooperation with the other nodes of the network, with other interested Greek scientists, medical units and hospitals as well as with large centres Genomics research abroad and will generally promote access to the infrastructures, facilities, technologies and methods it develops.
Q: How much can they help in the future health of citizens?
Α: For patients, individualisation of treatment involves more effective treatment of cancer and fewer side effects, clearly improving their quality of life. For the health system, the new possibilities for rational planning of the treatment of patients offered by the network will lead to economies of scale, curtailing unnecessary costs and saving resources that can be allocated for further Effective interventions. Finally, for bioscientists engaged in research with oncology, the collection of data from the genetic analysis of many patients will promote the discovery of new knowledge that can be used in biomedical research in order to better understand of cancer and the development of new therapies.
I consider that a center that will be able through DNA analysis to make early diagnosis of diseases even from the childhood of man will be a drastic and significant change in our everyday life. Based on the information we will read from the DNA analysis of the patients, the clinician will be able to decide what is best to be given as treatment. To the patient, because depending on the genes we carry we may have a different response to different medications. This information is very important in order to enable the doctor to choose an effective treatment for the patient. Besides, of course, the treatment of diseases and the best treatment, there are opportunities for very early prognosis of pathological conditions and thus prevention of diseases. Let us note here that such practices are already being implemented abroad. Therefore, personalized medicine has now entered the clinical practice and it would not be wise for Greece not to follow these developments.
The first decryption of the human genome took 12 years and cost 2.7 billion. Dollars. Today, we can now read the same information with DNA analysis in 2 to 3 days and at a cost of less than 1000 euros. Then, from the genes that each organism carries, we can judge which medicine is most suitable for each patient, thus choosing the most effective treatment. This will help reduce the cost of treatment because we usually talk about highly expensive drugs that are used to deal with difficult illnesses. I think that Greece, and for reasons of saving resources, would be important to follow developments in this area. It is now also developing technologies for DNA modification and for correcting its faults. It has been practised in guinea pigs while Chinese researchers have applied it even to human embryos.
Through early prognosis and effective treatment, the applications of gene analysis methods applied to individualized medicine I believe will completely transform the area of health. This is essentially about the medicine of the future, which will dramatically increase the possibilities of intervention in terms of health issues.
Nektarios Tavernarakis is chairman of the Board of Directors and director of the Central Directorate of the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas (forth). He is also a regular professor of molecular biology systems in the medical School of the University of Crete, director of the postgraduate studies program in bioinformatics of the medical school, and research director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and biotechnology of Forth, where he leads the laboratory of genomics and Ageing. He studied biology at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, he is a PhD student of the Department of Biology of the University of Crete and has produced postdoctoral studies in the United States of America. His research interests focus on the study of molecular mechanisms that govern the functioning and pathophysiology of the nervous system, the understanding of neurodegeneration, memory and learning mechanisms, as well as aging. He has contributed to the development of innovative experimental tools and methods for the study of the nervous system and the biology of the cell. He has published over 280 scientific papers in prestigious international scientific journals as well as dozens of chapters in books, and Eklaϊkeytika scientific articles in Greek and international publications. He holds three patents. His publications have already received over 21,000 citations (no autoreports). The H impact indicator of its publications is 58 (source: Google Scholar). He is an elected member of the Scientific Council of the European Research Council (ERC), European Molecular Biology Agency (EMBO), the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (EASA) and the European Academy of Sciences (Academia Europaea). He has also served as Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and biotechnology of Forth. It has been awarded with significant international and national distinctions, including two grants, for renowned researchers (Advanced Investigator Grant), and funding from the special program for the Promotion of innovation (Proof of Concept Grant) of ERC. He is one of the first in Europe to have achieved 2 grants from this highly competitive programme, and the only one so far in Greece. He has also been honored with the Academic Medicine and Biology award of the Bodossaki Foundation in the field of biomedical sciences, the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Germany, the scientific prize of Empeirikeion Foundation, the Aretaeio Award for Biomedical Sciences of the Academy of Athens, the new researcher Award of the European Molecular Biology Agency (EMBO), the Galien Scientific Research Award, the Helmholtz Award International Fellow Award, the postdoctoral scholarship of the international organization Human Frontier Science Program Organization (HFSPO), the award for research excellence of Forth, the honorary Education Business Award, as well as the award for academic From the Postgraduate research program of Dr. Frederick Valergakis of the Hellenic University Club of New York.
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Source of publication 29th edition In-On

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