Navarra fosters human genome analysis in the public health system through NAGEN 1000
- A consortium headed by Navarrabiomed will bring Navarra to the forefront of personalised/precision medicine.
NAGEN: Navarra Genome 1000 was presented earlier today at the Navarra Hospital Complex (CHN). NAGEN 1000 is an initiative led by the biomedical research centre Navarrabiomed, whose aim is to transfer the use of cutting-edge human genome analysis technology to Navarra’s public health system. A thousand genomes of patients with rare diseases and certain types of cancer in the Navarra Health System-Osasunbidea (SNS-O) and their relatives will be analysed.
The presentation was attended by CHN Managing Director Antonio Merino; the head of the R&D+I at the Directorate-General for Industry, Energy and Innovation of the Government of Navarra, Ana Vicente; the Director of NAGEN 1000, Ángel Alonso; and the Managing Director of Navarra de Servicios y Tecnologías (Nasertic), Iñaki Pinillos.
NAGEN 100 is a pioneering three-year project that will place Navarra at the top of Spain’s public health system in terms of genomic analysis and technology.
Modern medicine is moving towards clinical practice based on genetic diagnosis and DNA testing. In this context, NAGEN 1000 will lead the way to personalised and precision medicine, as it uses genomic information for disease prevention and the promotion of biomedical research. Also, it will drive technological progress in the precision medicine industry in Navarra.
The project has been granted 2,984,000 Euro, as part of the Strategic R&D Project Call 2017-2019 of the Advanced Genomics and Medicine (GEMA) challenge launched by the Economic Development Department at the Directorate-General for Industry, Energy and Innovation within the Intelligent Specialisation Strategy S3.
NAGEN 1000 will be developed by a consortium made of the CHN, Nasertic (a company run by the Government of Navarra), Avantia and Navarrabiomed, leader and coordinator of the project.
Nearly fifty professionals will be using genomic data for medical and development purposes to attain the goals of NAGEN 1000. The head of the team is Ángel Alonso, doctor at the CHN Medical Genetics Service and prominent researcher at Navarrabiomed. They will share knowledge and technical-scientific infrastructure within the consortium.
Other national and international institutions will bring support to the consortium: the Centro Nacional de Análisis Genómico (CNAG-CRG) and the Clinical Bioinformatics Research Area of Fundación Progreso y Salud (AIBC-FPS), reporting to the regional Government of Andalusia. These organisations will facilitate and supervise research and the transfer of technology to the consortium, following with the instructions given by the Higher Scientific Committee, made of renowned national and international experts in the implementation of genomics in medical practice.
Navarra as a strategic region
International consultants have pointed out that four characteristics can be found in Navarra that are important to the development and implementation of genomic medicine: digital medical records of residents to easily link genetic data to; a single tertiary referral hospital to coordinate all the medical specialties in the region; a rather small territory that is nevertheless enough for patient selection, recruitment and follow-up; and preserved core families for easy access to patients’ close relatives. Also, the project will analyse one genome every 500 inhabitants.
An ICT supercomputing infrastructure will be built simultaneously that will store, process and scale genomic information securely, in compliance with the relevant regulations. A Bioinformatics Unit will be created to analyse the genomic data obtained for clinical practice purposes. Also, a multidisciplinary Genomic Medicine Unit will be established made of SNS-O doctors to provide health professionals with the knowledge required to ensure that patients benefit from the latest advances in genomic medicine.
The importance of genomics goes beyond the scientific sphere, as this emerging medical discipline has an impact on the economy and is a driving force in the industry. Proof of this are past experiences, such as the Human Genome Project in the USA or the 100,000 Genomes Project in the UK, which was coordinated by Genomics England Ltd (GEL), a company the Navarra-based consortium is in contact and has established lines of cooperation with.
In the context of NAGEN 1000, different value-added strategies will be developed in accordance with the regulations in force. Giving a boost to biomedical research and exploring a new path for industrial development, the project is an important tool for development in the region that will bring Navarra and its public health system to the forefront of personalised medicine.