Only in 2021 and only in our country, a total of 276,000 cases of cancer were diagnosed, according to the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), and it is estimated that 113,000 patients died due to this disease. It is not surprising, therefore, that both the research community and the public sector and companies are seeking, via innovation, how to eradicate cancer from our daily vocabulary.
Nor is it trivial, following this reasoning, that this innovation is not limited solely to the medical or pharmacological field, but rather bet on multidisciplinarity and transversality. And it is that, as they say, to great challenges, great solutions.
On this subject he discussed meeting organized by the Carlos III University of Madrid together with FENIN (Spanish Federation of Health Technology Companies) this week. An appointment that served to put on the table the importance of collaboration between the different agents in the health sector and, specifically, to exploit the data in the fight against complex diseases such as cancer.
After the pertinent welcome, in charge of Carlos Blanco, Vice Manager for Research and Transfer at UC3Mwould Margarita Alfonsel, Secretary General of FENINwho would introduce some of these concepts in the conversation.
“One of the great objectives passes for promoting a new value chain around health technology, which bet on R+D+I, the transfer of results and the creation of a new innovative business fabric with high added value”. In Alfonsel’s opinion, this collaboration should lead us to the “construction of a more modern, intelligent and sustainable health system” on the pillars of initiatives such as the Health Technology Innovation Platform, created in 2009, which has now evolved into a forum for startups.
Regarding this latest initiative, Sergio Muñoz, Director of Innovation, Digital Health and Emerging Technologies at FENIN highlighted its innovative potential, while calling for measures such as a ‘sandbox’ “where you can develop transfer projects from universities to companies, new purchasing models and innovative regulations in a complex area like this” or support for the internationalization of these technologiesyes “Fortunately, our health system is not capable of absorbing all the technology that will be developed in this field, but this need must be transferable to other countries.”
Speaking of transfer, that key to uniting the most disruptive innovation with the market and patients, Virgilio Díaz -director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Service of the UC3M Science Park- presented the new Map of capabilities in R&D&I of Biomedical Technologies and Health Sciences of this university.
It is a document with which “communicate and connect the research work of our professors with the business fabric to develop collaboration activities and search for solutions to the challenges of society”. A map from which it is extracted that currently 62% of the UC3M research departments focus part of their R&D&I on the health sector.
But these general premises have to be translated into specific cases, both of research and technology transfer, that help us in the great health challenges of our times. For this purpose, two UC3M professors and two representatives of collaborating companies joined a round tablemoderated by Mar Carpena -D+I journalist- to explain the main lines of action in terms of data and its potential to stand up to cancer as an emblem of these challenges.
This is the case of Eva Méndez, researcher at the Department of Library Science and Documentation and Deputy Vice-Rector for Scientific Policy at UC3M. His area of specialization is meta-research, essential to ensure that “health data is the best possible and allows quality research to be carried out”.
What do we understand as good data? “That are findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable“, he answered. Together with the Virgen del Rocío Hospital, he is working precisely on a European project to establish its basic technical requirements.
Agree on the importance of data Javier Pascau, researcher at the Biomedical Imaging and Instrumentation Group (BiiG UC3M) Research Group. From its R+D+I area, it works on several lines, including a “pto enhance patient imaging data to put it at the right time and place for the oncology surgeon, including technologies such as surgical navigation or augmented reality”. This achieves, in his words, “greater personalization and less intrusiveness.”
Likewise, and together with the Navarra Clinic, Pascau forms part of a European project to limit the toxicity of radiotherapy treatments, “Using the analysis of images and oximetry of patients”. He explained that “prostate cancer has toxicity and could be minimized by better irradiating specific areas, thanks to predictive models of toxicity.”
Precisely in the field of imaging and diagnosis we find Belén Soto, Digital Sales General Manager Southern Europe Region at General Electric Healthcare. The director recognized that precision medicine is one of the main investment areas of his company and that his ultimate goal is “to transform the way in which diagnosis is currently made, oriented to protocol and based on fragmented information, to a more personalized model in which decisions are made with comprehensive information and augmented by artificial intelligence“.
Information that we widely have but use less than is desirable. Luis Javier Bonilla, General Director of CGM Clinical Spain (CompuGroup Medical) criticized in this regard that his company manages 22 million medical records in our country, “a huge asset that is underutilized“. In his opinion, we should develop both platforms for rapid access to this information in the care process and others “aimed at secondary use for research and knowledge generation” to finally unite both worlds, “which today do not speak to each other, They have different models and separate budgets”.
The occasion to celebrate this meeting of UC3M and FENIN could not be more pertinent. In recent months, we have learned about both the PERTE for cutting-edge health -approved at the end of 2021 by the Government of Spain- and the missions program, related to Cancer, of the European Horizon Europe Framework Program. Both promise significant investment in research and innovation in this field that can and should be used by all agents in the value chain.
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