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5 December 2016

posted Dec 5, 2016, 3:35 AM by Beck Lockwood   [ updated Feb 14, 2017, 6:45 AM ]

Exploring Precision Medicine at the India-UK Tech Summit

Deputy Director of the NIHR DEC Leeds, Dr Mike Messenger, was part of a delegation of precision medicine and health experts who joined British Prime Minister Theresa May and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the recent UK-India Tech Summit, a three-day event aimed at forging new collaborations between the two countries.

Theresa May speaking at the UK-India Tech Summit

The Summit, attended by government ministers, and leaders in industry, research and healthcare, took place in New Delhi in November. It offered the opportunity to explore how the UK and India might work together in areas such as healthcare and life sciences, advanced engineering and manufacturing, and Smart Cities.

Key initiatives under discussion during the Summit included plans
to develop Smart Cities in India, and a series of joint research initiatives worth up to £80 million, announced by Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. These are supported by the UK Government and Indian partners through the Newton Fund to address major global challenges including, anti-microbial resistance, healthcare and water quality.  

The UK’s growing capabilities in precision medicine make it an attractive partner for developing new initiatives and partnerships and a number of events at the Summit were dedicated to this topic.

Dr Messenger attended the Summit as part of a team led by Professor Richard Barker of the Precision Medicine Catapult, meeting with Indian commercial and government organisations to explore the potential for collaborations. In particular, Dr Messenger attended a panel discussion in Bangalore on Next Generation Healthcare, and a Precision Medicine workshop, held in Chennai, during which delegates focused on Indian and British approaches to precision medicine and explored partnership opportunities with Indian institutions and companies.  Leeds is a Centre of Excellence in Precision Medicine and is taking a whole-system city wide approach to bring the benefits of personalisedmedicine and health to its population, improving patient outcomes, whilst reducing waste and saving money.UK Prime Minister Theresa May, speaking at the UK-India Tech Summit

Dr Messenger says: “There’s enormous potential to create collaborations across shared areas of healthcare and the drive to develop these opportunities among our partners in India – particularly within the Smart Cities initiative – is genuinely exciting.”

Particular priorities in the field of precision medicine would be targeting infectious disease, cardio-metabolic disease, cancer and rare genetic disorders. There is also the potential to exchange research insights and data between Indian and UK organisations and engage in joint training and education programmes to help embed Precision Medicine principles in research practice, as well as at clinical, industry and policy levels.

An opportunity of particular interest to the Diagnostic Evidence Co-operative involves partnering with Indian institutions to develop the evidence base for pharmacogenomic research, an initiative that could lead to improved healthcare for UK-Asian populations.

“Getting access to improved pharmacogenomic data can help us better understand the differences in Asian and Caucasian responses to different drugs,” explains Dr Messenger. “Many drugs are approved on the basis of Caucasian responses - with improved data we can adapt treatments so they benefit particular ethnic groups.”

Collaborations between the UK and India will also offer new opportunities to translate UK research and technology into Indian markets. Being able to access commercial opportunities in the Indian healthcare system could be of huge benefit to the UK in terms of being able to scale up production of technologies and make them more affordable in both countries.

Alongside NIHR DEC Leeds, a number of experts from the University of Leeds were also represented at the Summit, engaging in discussions around robotics and engineering, as well as health and life sciences. The University’s involvement even sparked a mention in the House of Commons, when Greg Clark MP, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy praised Leeds' role at the event and highlighted the University's 'formidable' science excellence.