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Germany losing ground in genome medicine

Experts criticise lack of a national strategy

11 December 2018. Approximately 100 genomics experts attended the OMICS in Medical Research workshop on 10 December 2018 in Berlin, organised by TMF, to discuss developments and challenges in genome medicine in Germany. The participants expressed concern that the German scientific community is losing ground on a huge scale in comparison to international genome medicine activities. As Professor Michael Krawczak, Chairman of the TMF Board of Directors, and Director of University Medical Centre, Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel Campus, explains: “Although German genome research is in very good shape through a number of lighthouse facilities, the results are not finding their way into broad-based application within patient care.”

Genome medicine is evolving extremely rapidly: it is now an established aspect of the treatment of tumours and diagnostics for rare diseases. Sequencing the entire genome means medical treatments can be tailored precisely to the genetic characteristics of the tumour. This opens up more specific, more efficient options for the individual patient.

Germany falling behind

In many countries, major initiatives have already been launched with the goal of actively incorporating genomics into ongoing healthcare. They are prompted by the realisation that genome sequencing will be vital to personalised diagnostics, prevention and treatment. The Genomics England Project, launched in 2012, entailed sequencing some 100,000 genomes, primarily in the fields of cancer and rare diseases. The USA and France have established similar projects in the shape of All of Us and France Médecine Genomique 2025. There are no comparable initiatives in Germany at present. As Jürgen Eils of Heidelberg University Hospital highlighted at the Berlin workshop, “German research in genome medicine is currently falling behind on a huge scale."

No national genome research strategy in place

There is a lack of an overarching national strategy that would place genome medicine on broader foundations. As Krawczak states, “We have a number of top-class facilities in Germany that support clinical sequencing, for example for cancer or for rare diseases. But it is not enough by a long chalk. We need a form of genome medicine that can be applied to actual patient care, in close cooperation with the research community.”


 Wiebke Lesch | | Phone.: 030 - 22 00 24 731

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