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Towards a cell-based interceptive medicine in Europe

Hundreds of researchers, clinicians, industry leaders and policy makers from all around Europe are united by a vision of how to revolutionize healthcare. In a perspective in Nature and the LifeTime Strategic Research Agenda they now present a roadmap of how to leverage the latest scientific breakthroughs and technologies over the next decade, to track, understand and treat human cells throughout an individual’s lifetime.

The LifeTime initiative, co-coordinated by the Max Delbrück Center of Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) in Berlin and the Institut Curie in Paris, has developed a strategy to advance personalized treatment for five major disease classes: cancer, neurological, infectious, chronic inflammatory and cardiovascular diseases. The aim is a new age of personalized, cell-based interceptive medicine for Europe with the potential of improved health outcomes and more cost-effective treatment, resulting in profoundly changing a person’s healthcare experience.

Earlier detection and more effective treatment of diseases

Image showing sections of cerebral brain organoids derived from pluripotent stem cells.

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 leading to disease which remain undetected until symptoms appear. At this point, medical treatment is often invasive, expensive and inefficient. However, now we have the technologies to capture the molecular makeup of individual cells and to detect the emergence of disease or therapy resistance much earlier.

Using breakthrough single-cell and imaging technologies in combination with artificial intelligence and personalized disease models will allow us to not only predict disease onset earlier, but also to select the most effective therapies for individual patients. Targeting disease-causing cells to intercept disorders before irreparable damage occurs will substantially improve the outlook for many patients and has the potential of saving billions of Euros of disease-related costs in Europe.  

A detailed roadmap for implementing LifeTime

Cell-based medicine will allow doctors to diagnose diseases earlier and intercept disorders before irreparable damage has occurred.
Nikolaus Rajewsky
Nikolaus Rajewsky Co-coordinator of the LifeTime Initiative

The perspective article “The LifeTime initiative and the future of cell-based interceptive medicine in Europe” and the LifeTime Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) explain how these technologies should be rapidly co-developed, transitioned into clinical settings and applied to the five major disease areas. Close interactions between European infrastructures, research institutions, hospitals and industry will be essential to generate, share and analyze LifeTime’s big medical data across European borders. The initiative’s vision advocates ethically responsible research to benefit citizens all across Europe.  

According to Professor Nikolaus Rajewsky, scientific director of the Berlin Institute for Medical System Biology at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and coordinator of the LifeTime Initiative, the LifeTime approach is the way into the future: "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.” 

Dr. Geneviève Almouzni, director of research at CNRS, honorary director of the research center from Institut Curie in Paris and co-coordinator of the LifeTime Initiative believes that the future with LifeTime offers major social and economic impact: “By implementing interceptive, cell-based medicine we will be able to considerably improve treatment across many diseases. Patients all over the world will be able to lead longer, healthier lives. The economic impact could be tremendous with billions of Euros saved from productivity gains simply for cancer, and significantly shortened ICU stays for Covid-19. We hope EU leaders will realize we have to invest in the necessary research now."

 

Further information

Literature

Media to download

Please refer to the media kit on the LifeTime website.
 

Contacts

Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Rajewsky
Co-coordinator of the LifeTime Initiative

Director of the Berlin Institute of Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB)
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC)
+49 (0)30 9406-2999 (office)
rajewsky@mdc-berlin.de

Valentin Popescu
Communication manager for the LifeTime Initiative
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC)
+49 176 6563 9465
valentin.popescu@mdc-berlin.de  
 

About LifeTime

The LifeTime Initiative is a growing community of more than 100 leading European research institutions and hospitals, together with international advisers and over 80 supporting companies. LifeTime includes the preeminent European laboratories developing multi-omic strategies, scientific infrastructures, bioimaging and computational technologies, as well as  world-renowned laboratories in the area of personalized disease models, bioethicists and a core group of leading clinician scientists. Many of the involved institutions include or are linked to translational/clinical research facilities and hospitals, ensuring that LifeTime discoveries can be rapidly translated into clinical practice.

The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC)

 

The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC) was founded in Berlin in 1992. It is named for the German-American physicist Max Delbrück, who was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. The MDC's mission is to study molecular mechanisms in order to understand the origins of disease and thus be able to diagnose, prevent and fight it better and more effectively. In these efforts the MDC cooperates with the Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH ) as well as with national partners such as the German Center for Cardiovascular Research and numerous international research institutions. More than 1,600 staff and guests from nearly 60 countries work at the MDC, just under 1,300 of them in scientific research. The MDC is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (90 percent) and the State of Berlin (10 percent), and is a member of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. www.mdc-berlin.de