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Early identification key for healthcare

Biomarkers will help global healthcare systems survive financially, an event in London has heard

Global healthcare systems will have to move more into early health and the use biomarkers if they want to survive financially in the future, a meeting held at the embassy of Sweden in London on Friday May 13 has heard.

The event, hosted by the Stockholm-Uppsala region of Sweden, heard that the ideal scenario would be that biomarkers are used regularly to test people for diseases to catch them in early stages or before they occur and treat them.

However, current efforts put into this field are limited and as a result, little new technology is being developed. Daniel Mahony, fund manager at Polar Capital, said: "Financial firms are not investing in diagnostics because it is not interesting to them. It is insurance companies and governments that will invest because it is a way to save money."

The meeting also heard about the growing antibodies market. Lotta Ljungqvist, head of R&D BioTechnologies, Life Sciences at GE Healthcare Sweden, said: "There will be more protein-based drugs available commercially within the next two years, which will be transferred through to the copycats."

She predicted that within 20 years the healthcare system will be able to treat almost every disease, stating "there is so much going on in this area." There are currently 20 protein-based drugs on the market.

The meeting heard that antibodies are easier to manufacture than molecules and that their popularity is growing, moving to India and China.

The purpose of the event was to promote the Stockholm-Uppsala region and the technologies it is developing. The region has already attracted AstraZeneca, GE Healthcare and Pfizer and participates in one third of all EU funded life sciences and protein research projects.

Andreas von Beckerath, minister counsellor for Sweden, said: "Sweden has been successful [in this area] because it invests 4 per cent of GDP into science, which is one of the highest in Europe.

"Also we are open-minded and we collaborate between academic and corporate sectors," he said.

16th May 2011

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