Hundreds of innovators, research pioneers, clinicians, industry leaders and policy makers from across Europe have united behind a shared vision that they believe holds the promise to revolutionise healthcare. In two publications, a perspective article in the journal Nature and the LifeTime Strategic Research Agenda, they present a detailed roadmap. This sets out how it might be possible to harness the latest scientific breakthroughs and technologies, over the next decade, to track, understand and treat human cells throughout the lifetime of an individual.
The LifeTime initiative, which includes the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (LMS) as one of its more than 100-strong network of supporting organisations, has developed a strategy of personalised treatment for five major classes of disease: cancer, and neurological, infectious, chronic inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases. The aim is an era of personalised, cell-based interceptive medicine with the potential to improve health outcomes and enable more cost-effective treatment.
To form a functioning, healthy, body our cells follow developmental paths during which they acquire specific roles in tissues and organs. But when they deviate from their healthy course they accumulate changes that lead to disease, and which can remain undetected until symptoms appear. At this point, medical treatment is often invasive, expensive and inefficient.
The LifeTime initiative intends to use powerful new technologies to capture the molecular makeup of individual cells, and to detect the emergence of disease or resistance to therapy much earlier. The group says that by using single-cell and imaging technologies in combination with artificial intelligence and personalised models of disease, it will be possible not only predict the onset of disease sooner, but also to select the most effective therapies for individual patients. Their expectation is that by targeting disease-causing cells to intercept disorders before irreparable damage occurs, it will be possible to substantially improve the outlook for patients and could save billions of Euros in disease-related costs in Europe.
Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky, scientific director of the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, and coordinator of the LifeTime Initiative, said: “LifeTime has brought together scientists across fields – from biologists, to clinicians, data scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and physicists ¬– to enable a much-improved understanding of molecular mechanisms driving health and disease. Cell-based medicine will allow doctors to diagnose diseases earlier and intercept disorders before irreparable damage has occurred. LifeTime has a unique value proposition that promises to improve the European patient’s health.”
Professor Amanda Fisher, Director of the LMS, said: “LifeTime is an interesting and ambitious proposal to co-ordinate longitudinal studies of health and disease, focussed at a single cell level, with the aim of developing new strategies for intervention.”
“LifeTime and improving European healthcare through cell-cased interceptive medicine”,
7 September 2020, Nature. Full article here.