The government will invest 63.1 billion won ($55.7 million) into developing precision medicine until 2021 with Korea University acting as the control tower, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said Monday.
The ministry보건복지부 and the Ministry of Science and ICT과학기술정보통신부 have launched a precision medicine promotion body, designating Korea University Medical Applied R&D Global Initiative Center (KU-MAGIC) as the leading group for the next five years.
The government will spend about 43 billion won for developing targeted therapeutic agents customized for genetic mutations in cancer patients, and 20.1 billion won ($17.7 million) for developing a cloud-based hospital information system (HIS), the ministry said.
Regarding developing targeted therapeutic agents, the newly created body will analyze the genetic information of 10,000 cancer patients and apply personalized treatment to about 2,000 people eligible for targeted therapy. The team will also develop three new target treatments, it added.
“According to Statistics Korea, approximately 80,000 people die each year because they cannot find appropriate treatment, while another estimate says targeted therapies can extend patients’ lifespan by 15 percent to 40 percent,” a ministry official said.
Between 5,000 and 13,000 cancer patients with illnesses that have high-occurrence and low-survival rates – such as lung, stomach, and colon cancer – can benefit from gene mutation-targeted therapies.
In addition to newly developed anticancer drugs, clinical trials will try to improve the accessibility of new medicines to cancer patients through various approaches such as expanding indications of already approved drugs.
The Korean Cancer Study Group대한항암요법연구회, a domestic network of cancer research professionals, will gather hospitals and researchers for the development of new medicines partnering with the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the American Association for Cancer Research, the ministry said.
The cloud-based HIS will allow patients to safely store personal medical information without storage limitations while helping doctors provide personalized medical care services by reviewing patient health information at various times.
Medical staff at Korea University고려대학교 and Ajou University아주대학교, along with hospitals and enterprises such as Samsung Medical Center삼성서울병원, Severance Hospital세브란스병원, Gachon University Gil Medical Center가천대길병원, Samsung SDS삼성SDS, and Crossent크로센트, will participate in expanding cloud-based systems in the domestic medical field.
“The precision medicine enterprise will be the pivot to change the future of Korean medicine,” the ministry official said. “We will concentrate national research capacity on the development of precision medicine technology, and strive to preoccupy the future market of customized treatment through strategic-comprehensive study and development.”
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