Is precision medicine the future of healthcare

Opportunities and challenges of personalized medicine in oncology

At the same time, the data from each individual test contribute to growing knowledge in oncology. Because if the individual tumor profile is linked with thousands of other profiles, patterns emerge that can provide valuable impulses for the research and development of further personalized therapies. However, the findings from day-to-day treatment in particular have hardly found their way into research. Because our reality also includes the fact that data management in this country is still highly fragmented and information is often still gathering dust in filing cabinets. The result: Progress in oncology is based almost exclusively on the data that are collected in the context of clinical studies - and that is not even five percent of the potentially available information. With the planned introduction of the electronic patient record, politicians have taken an important step in the right direction. But this can only be the beginning. Because we already know how a direct networking of research and care can be implemented in reality. The start-up company Flatiron Health from the USA shows us how it is done: You work with oncologists, clinics and research centers in the USA and already draw your knowledge from more than 2 million electronic patient files. This information from care flows directly into research and thus accelerates the development of even more individual drugs for the future treatment of patients with cancer. We also call this “knowledge-generating supply”.

The prerequisites for transforming cancer patients into a cure or a chronic disease process in the foreseeable future and establishing Germany as a digital health metropolis are there: innovation potential and the spirit of research are widespread. In order to achieve this goal as quickly as possible, however, we have to promote networking and also use industrial know-how. Here business, science, politics and society are called upon to overcome their particular interests and to focus on the social benefit.

Roche: diagnostics, pharmaceuticals and health IT under one roof

Roche, headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, is a leading global biotech company specializing in the research and development of innovative diagnostics and therapies. Roche employs over 94,000 people worldwide - around 16,500 of them at the three main German locations in Grenzach-Wyhlen, Mannheim and Penzberg. Every year Roche invests over 10 billion Swiss francs in research and development, making Roche one of the ten companies that invest the most in research worldwide. The focus of research is on diseases with a particularly high need for new medical solutions. In addition to oncology, these include neurological-psychiatric diseases, immunology and infectious diseases.

Pioneer in oncology

Roche has been a pioneer in researching and developing advanced cancer therapies for over 50 years. Since 2000 alone, Roche has introduced more than ten new cancer therapies in the European Union - including for specific forms of breast, lung and skin cancer. The early interaction of pharmaceutical research and accompanying diagnostics under one roof enables Roche to implement personalized medicine in oncology like no other company. At the same time, Roche is continuously expanding its health IT expertise - examples of this are the acquisitions of Flatiron Health and Foundation Medicine Inc. The particular expertise of both companies is to network and analyze data and thus make it usable for research and treatment.

Original article published in the FAZ on June 26, 2019