On 21 March 2023, the CGI-Clinics project held a one-hour event at the EU Parliament to discuss the implementation of personalised medicine in cancer treatment at the national level.
The event aimed to address known policy and service delivery barriers that prevent greater access to personalised medicine for cancer patients in Europe.
The event was attended by medical professionals, patient associations, policy-makers and the general public.
Personalised medicine is a key component of the EU Beating Cancer Plan, which proposes to introduce several flagship initiatives to promote personalised medicine in cancer treatment.
Despite these promising initiatives, there is little information available about how they are being developed and whether they will reflect lessons learned from existing work across the region.
The CGI-Clinics project aims to address this gap by building a new Cancer Genome Interpreter (CGI), a bioinformatics tool that will systematize tumour genome interpretation for clinical decision-making.
This tool will enable medical professionals to choose the most effective cancer treatments for each patient, thereby increasing access to personalised medicine for cancer patients.
The event chaired by MEP Dolors Montserrat (EPP, Spain) and Tomislav Sokol (EPP, Croatia) began with an overview of the CGI-Clinics project and its relevance in policy-making, followed by a multistakeholder panel discussion on the current policy status and challenges of implementing personalised oncology at the national level, between medical oncologists, patient associations and policy-makers in Europe.
In its welcome note, MEP Tomislav Sokol who is also the co-rapporteur on the European Health data Space (EHDS) file for the ENVI committee, acknowledged the importance of personalised medicine to improve patient outcomes, saying that “Europe is lagging behind in commercialised research that can bring concrete benefits for patients, and this is something we need to change. Personalised medicine is the future of improving cancer care and achieving better health outcomes.”
As an example of national implementation of personalised medicine, “CGI-Clinics aspires to push forward the community-driven European automated tool for cancer genome interpretation. The project will channel efforts into equity (versatile and adapted to all sized hospitals), innovation (it solves mutations of unknown significance and can process large datasets), and patient data sharing as a central pillar for the benefit of future patients and society.” explained Olivia Tort, CGI-Clinics project manager at IRB Barcelona.
MEP Dolors Montserrat, who was a member of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA), moderated the discussion panel and spoke about how health is moving to the centre of EU policies over the next decade, offering great opportunities for the Parliament to improve outcomes for cancer patients.
She noted that “For cancer patients, it’s not just about getting treatment. It’s also about the impact of the disease on their lives socially, and economically.
It’s very important for us to include this human point of view in health policymaking, not just the medical.”
About the event, Adela Maghear, Senior EU Affairs Manager at the European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC), one of the CGI-Clinics project partners, commented “Europe is living a digital momentum now with the recent publication by the European Commission of the EHDS regulation. And one of the main objectives of this regulation is to support the use of health data for better healthcare delivery, better research, innovation and policy-making. And CGI-Clinics will bring its contribution to achieving objectives as such while putting patients at the core of the digital momentum.”
The event was well-attended, with attendees from across Europe and beyond joining in person and virtually.
It provided a valuable opportunity for stakeholders to come together and discuss the challenges and opportunities of personalised medicine in cancer treatment.
The World Cancer Declaration recognises that to make major reductions in premature deaths, innovative education and training opportunities for healthcare workers in all disciplines of cancer control need to improve significantly.
ecancer plays a critical part in improving access to education for medical professionals.
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