The health industry is in a revolutionary moment. The arrival of new technologies such as cell therapy or gene editing have opened new horizons for curing hitherto incurable diseases. However, resources are limited, and society must make its priorities clear. The second day of the Cercle d’Economia Meeting this morning dedicated a round table to address the challenges of opportunity and sustainability of the medicine of the future. The session was moderated by the founding partner of Asabys Partners, Clara Campàs, who highlighted Barcelona’s positioning as a top-level sector hub in Europe.

The director of the Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (VHIO), Josep Tabernero, has put into perspective the important leap that research has made in the last 20 years. “Cancer survival has gone from 35% to 60% currently in our environment and we are working to raise that percentage to 75% by 2030,” he explained. However, the medical expert has pointed out that society must be clear about which research is prioritized to guarantee sustainability. “In this regard, I am concerned that there is currently an explosion of knowledge, but the equity gap is increasing,” he noted.

Tabernero explained that Europe has to speed up the investigation. “Nixon established the National Cancer Institute in 1971. In the European Union, we created it in 2021,” he noted. The expert has expressed concern about the evolution of European regulations and has pointed out that the new in vitro research regulation has increased the regulatory times before starting a clinical trial by almost 12 months.

The chief medical officer of The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, Valentí Fuster, has referred to the challenges of research in Europe. “We must distinguish who is a researcher and who is not. Many times it is said that there is no money, but we must seek excellence. Protect those who are really good,” he noted.

Fuster has pointed out that research and education are key to guaranteeing the economic future of a country. “In the United States they have been clear about this for years, and now in China too,” she stated. In this sense, she has pointed out program projects as a key mechanism in research in the US, which allow working on a specific topic from basic to clinical research.

The session also included the perspective of the pharmaceutical industry. Virginia Haurigot, head of eye research at Spark Therapeutics, has noted that she foresees strong growth in drugs related to gene therapy. “In 2017, a drug was approved. Last year there were five. The growth is going to be exponential,” she stated.

Haurigot has pointed out that the introduction of new technologies represents a challenge for the industry. “With gene therapy, a sector had to be created from nothing. That involves R&D, but also how to produce drugs or how to regulate them,” she explained.