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#EAPM - Personalised medicine agenda moves to Milan and Sofia

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Brexit seems to be hanging around and running on-the-spot at the moment but, in contrast, the Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) is on the move again due to its involvement in a breast cancer-related event in Sofia, preceded by a key conference on Big Data in Milan, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan.

The Regions4PerMed event in Italy on 9 May will cover Big Data, electronic health records and health governance. It will also involve the MEGA+ concept, as championed by EAPM.

The Regions4PerMed project, which has received funding from the European Unions Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, was launched in the capital of the Lombardy Region towards the end of 2018 during the EAPM Congress.

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It is geared towards interregional coordination for a fast and deep uptake of personalised health, and aims to align strategies and financial instruments, identify key investment areas, and release a European regional agenda in order to speed up the delivery of personalised health services to patients and citizens.

Regions4PerMeds expected impact will be a strengthening of links between European regions setting up or planning personalised medicine health-care approaches.

Key strategic areas look at regional challenges from the regulatory, economic, cultural, responsible research and innovation, and gender perspectives. 

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EAPM’s Executive Director Denis Horgan, who will chair a session at the event (on research data management), said: “Co-ordinating regional policies and innovation programmes in personalised medicine is an urgent need. At EAPM we have worked hard on this with our SMART Outreach initiative - SMART stands for Smaller Member states And Regions Together - and have taken the personalised medicine philosophy out on the road.”

Horgan added: “As personalised medicine develops, a number of good practices are emerging, not least regionally, which, individually and collectively, offer insights into how to design and implement successful new models. The EUs regions are key to speeding the full integration of personalised medicine into Europes healthcare systems.”

Moving MEGA+ forward

The Alliance has been working long and hard on its MEGA+ plan, as a response to a clearly demonstrated willingness on the part of many member states, and the highly innovative regions within them, to collaborate when it comes to comprehensive data sharing in health care. 

A Declaration, signed in April 2018 by a swathe of EU countries, brought about a voluntary coordination of efforts to garner at least one million genomes by 2022.

Now, the MEGA+ initiative extends this process to all medial data, not just genomes, but to include imaging, eHealth apps, electronic health records, and more, all undertaken with the highest level of ethics and patient consent.

How the data is collected and how its quality can be assured are among the issues that need to be decided.

An over-riding issue is that the hurdles of healthcare data fragmentation, representation and organisational boundaries will need to be tackled for innovation in the field to succeed.

Ways need to be found, through collaboration and essential, agreed structures, to ensure no duplication, and bring about added value by building on existing activities.

And what is also urgently required is a common vision and purpose to make MEGA+ work optimally. Among other matters, the Milan event will take these issues forward while seeking workable solutions.

A to Z of breast cancer

The Bulgarian Alliance for Precision and Personalized Medicine, known as BAPPM, has been working in the arena of common cancers.

During its own country’s Presidency of the EU, last year, and in conjunction with EAPM, BAPPM hosted a conference entitled ‘Lung Cancer & Early Diagnosis: The Evidence Exists for Screening.

This took place in Sofia, in April, 2018 and the focus now turns to he most common cancer among women - breast cancer - and the implementation of European guidelines to treat the disease, as well as screening and early diagnosis.

The title of the conference is ‘Breast Cancer from A to Z’ and it will take place on 17 May, again in  the country’s capital Sofia.  Please see the following agenda.

A variety of topics will be covered at the event, such as access to early diagnosis and screening, precision diagnostics, pharmaceutical treatment – chemotherapy, target therapy, adjuvant and neoadjuvant therapy -  as well as the role of an interdisciplinary team in the decision-making process and treatment choice.

The conference will pull together various stake-holders in the arena of personalised medicine drawn from healthcare policymakers, members of the health committee in the Bulgarian Parliament, patient groups, payers, healthcare professionals, industry, science, academic and research representatives.

Said BAPPM chair Dr. Jasmina Koeva-Balabanova: “Last year’s event on lung cancer was extremely successful and moved the agenda forward, not just in Bulgaria, but on a pan-EU basis, and we’re sure that we can do the same for breast cancer at the May event.”

European Commission

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €231 million in pre-financing to Slovenia

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The European Commission has disbursed €231 million to Slovenia in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's grant allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €2.5 billion in total, consisting of €1.8bn in grants and €705m in loans, over the lifetime of its plan. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80 billion in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU.

The RRF is at the heart of NextGenerationEU which will provide €800bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states. The Slovenian plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Cyprus

NextGenerationEU: European Commission disburses €157 million in pre-financing to Cyprus

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The European Commission has disbursed €157 million to Cyprus in pre-financing, equivalent to 13% of the country's financial allocation under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). The pre-financing payment will help to kick-start the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan. The Commission will authorise further disbursements based on the implementation of the investments and reforms outlined in Cyprus' recovery and resilience plan.

The country is set to receive €1.2 billion in total over the lifetime of its plan, with €1 billion provided in grants and €200m in loans. Today's disbursement follows the recent successful implementation of the first borrowing operations under NextGenerationEU. By the end of the year, the Commission intends to raise up to a total of €80bn in long-term funding, to be complemented by short-term EU-Bills, to fund the first planned disbursements to member states under NextGenerationEU. Part of NextGenerationEU, the RRF will provide €723.8bn (in current prices) to support investments and reforms across member states.

The Cypriot plan is part of the unprecedented EU response to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, fostering the green and digital transitions and strengthening resilience and cohesion in our societies. A press release is available online.

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Belgium

EU Cohesion policy: Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy receive €373 million to support health and social services, SMEs and social inclusion

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The Commission has granted €373 million to five European Social Fund (ESF) and European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) operational programmes (OPs) in Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy to help the countries with coronavirus emergency response and repair in the framework of REACT-EU. In Belgium, the modification of the Wallonia OP will make available an additional €64.8m for the acquisition of medical equipment for health services and innovation.

The funds will support small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in developing e-commerce, cybersecurity, websites and online stores, as well as the regional green economy through energy efficiency, protection of the environment, development of smart cities and low-carbon public infrastructures. In Germany, in the Federal State of Hessen, €55.4m will support health-related research infrastructure, diagnostic capacity and innovation in universities and other research institutions as well as research, development and innovation investments in the fields of climate and sustainable development. This amendment will also provide support to SMEs and funds for start-ups through an investment fund.

In Sachsen-Anhalt, €75.7m will facilitate cooperation of SMEs and institutions in research, development and innovation, and provide investments and working capital for micro-enterprises affected by the coronavirus crisis. Moreover, the funds will allow investments in the energy efficiency of enterprises, support digital innovation in SMEs and acquiring digital equipment for schools and cultural institutions. In Italy, the national OP ‘Social Inclusion' will receive €90m to promote the social integration of people experiencing severe material deprivation, homelessness or extreme marginalisation, through ‘Housing First' services that combine the provision of immediate housing with enabling social and employment services.

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In Spain, €87m will be added to the ESF OP for Castilla y León to support the self-employed and workers who had their contracts suspended or reduced due to the crisis. The money will also help hard-hit companies avoid layoffs, especially in the tourism sector. Finally, the funds are needed to allow essential social services to continue in a safe way and to ensure educational continuity throughout the pandemic by hiring additional staff.

REACT-EU is part of NextGenerationEU and provides €50.6bn additional funding (in current prices) to Cohesion policy programmes over the course of 2021 and 2022. Measures focus on supporting labour market resilience, jobs, SMEs and low-income families, as well as setting future-proof foundations for the green and digital transitions and a sustainable socio-economic recovery.

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