As concluded at the international precision medicine networking forum PMNET Forum 2023 in Riga, Latvia - the latest treatment methods are already being developed in the nearest Baltic and Nordic regions. The goal of the PMNET Forum is to bring them into clinical practice and to make them more accessible in the treatment of both children and adults. Latvia is defining specialization directions, together with global companies and specialists from more than 50 countries, including Lithuania and Estonia, for the creation of a regional European precision medicine center. It is intended that, in this way, Latvia would be included in the world's leading precision medicine services and research.
The precision medicine networking forum is one of the tools to identify competencies in biomedicine and the scientific capacity of Latvia resulting in commercialized products or cooperation projects that strengthen health care. Within the framework of the event, cooperation agreements concluded and readiness to continue developing precision medicine were confirmed by Minister of Economy Viktors Valainis, Minister of Health Hosams Abu Meri, Riga Vice-Mayor Linda Ozola, Director of the Innovation and Technology Department of the Latvian Investment and Development Agency Nikita Kazakevičs, as well as representatives of global companies - Novartis, EUSA Pharma, Roche and Illumina.
The networking forum was attended by the world's leading precision medicine experts from the USA, including Harvard University, Israel, Scandinavia, Western Europe and the Baltic States. Among the visitors were healthcare system employees and management representatives from Latvian hospitals and regions, as well as from Lithuania and Estonia and the nearest Nordic countries. Within the framework of the forum, opinions were expressed several times about Latvia and the Baltics as suitable places for the development of biomedical projects.
Evija Celma, Roche Services & Solutions Latvija: "Roche has decided to open its fourth Roche Services & Solutions business service center in Riga, along with other centers in Hungary, Costa Rica and Malaysia, because young talents from not only Latvia, but also the Baltic and Nordic countries can be reached here. In Riga, there are many experienced professionals in positions very necessary for the industry - financial specialists, business process analysts, but a special motivation for us was the language knowledge of local specialists and the availability of talent in such relatively new marketing professions as graphic designers, campaign project managers, social media and marketing automation experts, etc. Today's labor market and professions are changing very rapidly, so education must be comprehensive - both technical and creativity-enhancing and social skills-developing knowledge are needed. Also, the openness of society and an inclusive environment play a huge role in choosing Riga as a home for talents from near and far countries, because by joining Roche, employees are joining a global company that opens up global opportunities."
Ministry of Economics of Latvia panel discussion "Human resource provision in Latvian health care" was held, with the participation of management representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Science, Riga Technical University, University of Latvia and Riga Stradiņš University. Within its framework, it was concluded that Latvian universities have all the prerequisites to jointly create study programs that would become leading in the region. More information about learning opportunities, in the panel discussion post on the social network Facebook: PMNET - Precision Medicine Networking Forum.
The knowledge of Latvian specialists and the competence of doctors, as well as involvement in international projects, were repeatedly emphasized by the speakers of the forum. Partner of phamaceutical company Novartis, Principal Investigator, Academy of Finland Research Fellow, University of Helsinki, Simon Pfisterer: “Precision medicine is evolving rapidly, so it is particularly important to find the best ways to harness these developments to help as many people as possible. Precision approaches are quite common in oncology, but the picture is different when it comes to cardiology and cardiovascular health in general. The fact that it is starting to be talked about in Latvia is already a significant step forward in raising awareness and developing the approach. For example, technology developed by researchers at the University of Helsinki makes it possible to obtain data on how biological variations affect the results of lipid-lowering therapy. This, in turn, will enable physicians to identify patients early on for whom conventional therapies will not be effective and to start early with a new generation of innovative drugs for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia and the prevention of heart disease.”
In order for such solutions to be created, it is essential to solve interdisciplinary research challenges in Latvia. During the PMNET event, the Memorandum of Understanding was signed on the establishment of the research platform "BioMedPharm" for the development of the direction of biomedicine in Latvia. Six leading Latvian biomedical research organizations - Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Center, Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, University of Latvia, Scientific Institute of Food Safety, Animal Health and Environment "BIOR", Riga Stradiņa University and Riga Technical University have joined forces.
The mission of "BioMedPharm" is to improve the availability of therapy, thereby reducing mortality and morbidity rates, as well as to contribute to the improvement of the general health status of society. In their activities, the participants of the platform will focus on the development of technologies for the production of medicines, their transport forms and vaccines, re-profiling of medicinal substances, research on the discovery and development of new medicinal substances, as well as on the identification of new biomarkers and the implementation of precision medicine solutions. The goal of BioMedPharm is not only to develop significant treatment solutions for patients, but also to support the Latvian pharmaceutical industry in its efforts to strengthen global competitiveness. It is essential that "BioMedPharm" will also contribute to the creation of new knowledge by solving fundamental research problems.
The panel discussion of the Ministry of Economics "Smart specialization in biomedicine", during which, with the participation of leading research organizations, practical steps for the further development of precision medicine were defined. It was concluded that work on the Law on Biobanks and the Law on Data Reuse should be continued in order to allow medical data to be used in research, while respecting data security requirements. It is also important to improve the legal framework of intellectual property rights for public universities, aligning it with the interests of researchers and promoting the commercialization of science. In the discussion, it was decided to continue cooperation to create open laboratories.
Latvia's scientific capacity will also be strengthened by cooperation with the Karolinska Institute (Sweden) and Oslo University Hospital, with which, by agreeing on joint work, several Latvian organizations - the Children's Clinical University Hospital, the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Center, attracting as partners the Children's Hospital Foundation and Latvian Children's Oncology within the fund - networking forum, a memorandum on the development of the "Latvian Childhood Cancer Biobank" was concluded. Such development of the biobank will provide an opportunity for high-quality collection and storage of biological samples and data, improving diagnosis and treatment of children with oncological diseases, as well as expanding the contribution of Latvian scientists to international cancer research.
The forum is organized by Riga Stradins University, Children's Hospital Foundation, Children's Clinical University Hospital, Latvian Children’s Oncology Fund, Ministry of Economics, Ministry of Health, Latvian Investment and Development Agency and patient organizations - The Alliance of Rare Diseases of Latvia, Latvian Network of Patient Organizations, Onco Alliance, Alliance for Men's Health, etc. in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Center, American Chamber of Commerce in Latvia, University of Latvia, Riga Stradiņš University, Riga Technical University, Riga Eastern Clinical University Hospital, Paula Stradiņš Clinical University Hospital. The forum is supported by Novartis, EUSA Pharma, Illumina and Roche.
The event is implemented in cooperation with the European Regional Development Fund project 184.108.40.206. "Support for the improvement of the technology transfer system" (project identification number 220.127.116.11/16/I/001), implementing ERDF 1.2.1. of the specific support objective "Increase private sector investments in R&D".