The first Balkan conference on Personalized Medicine, organized by the Bulgarian Alliance for Precision and Personalized Medicine (BAPPM), took place in Sofia. The event on the 26th and 27th October and was a stepping stone in the creation of a Balkan network for personalized medicine. BAPPM, in collaboration and with the strong support of the European Alliance for Personalized Medicine (EAPM) will play a major role in building the network, stated during the forum Mr. Denis Horgan, Executive Director of EAPM. The main goal of the Balkan network will be the exchange of good practices and experience between experts in the field to help them integrate the latest innovations in the healthcare systems in the region.

In his lecture, titled “Personalizing health – global imperative”, Mr. Horgan introduced the tendencies, challenges, and possibilities for development of the personalized medicine in Europe. The highlighted that, with the current presidency of the European Union, our country has the opportunity to work for the integration of innovations in the healthcare system. That is why the Bulgarian Alliance for Precision and Personalized Medicine will work closely with its partners from Romania and Austria, who will take over the EU presidency after Bulgaria. A key moment in their collaboration will be the question of the early diagnosis of ontological diseases, specifically the screening and early diagnosis of lung cancer.

In his lecture, “Personalized Medicine in Romania – from the scientific laboratory to the patient’s bed, from the dream to reality”, the President of the Center for Innovation in Medicine and the Romanian Alliance for Personalized Medicine (RAPM), Dr. Marius Geanta introduced the development of personalized medicine in Romania and stated again his willingness to deepen the cooperation with BAPPM.

The Chair of BAPPM’s Board, Dr. Jasmina Koeva-Balabanova,  introduced the tendencies, challenges, and the possible solutions for popularizing personalized medicine in Bulgaria. She noted that healthcare as we know it is rapidly changing, giving a more precision and personalized treatment for the patients. As for today, there are more than 41 registered medical products for personalized treatment  in Bulgaria, 31 of which are in the field of oncology, 6 are antivirus, 3 are for central nervous system disorders, and 1 in the field of rheumatology. Around 90% of these products are reimbursed by the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF). As of 2017, from 9 new medical products in the positive list of the Fund, 6 are for personalized medicine. There is also an increase of 69% expected in the amount of medicaments for personalized medicine. This also means that the increase in the investments in personalized medicine will increase with 33%.

Балканска конференция по персонализирана медицина

Prof. Dr. Draga Toncheva, President of Bulgarian Scientific Society for Genomics and Human Genetics, focused on the biggest achievements of genetics, genomics, immunogenetics, pharmacogenetics, and pharmacogenomics. “Genomic medicine is not only in the field of oncology, although the achievements there are quite impressive because we have biomarkers that give us the diagnosis and a forecast and that indicate the behavior of the patients and their individual treatment. Genomics changes the way we perceive medicine and paved the path for many opportunities for the treatment of chronic and serious diseases, so in the future cancer may really become a chronic disorder.”, she argued.

Other lecturers at the conference were Mr. Deyan Denev – Executive Director ARPharm (Association of Research-based Pharmaceutical Manufacturers in Bulgaria), Venelina Mileva – Executive Director Acibadem City Clinic Tokuda Hospital, Prof. Dr. Rumen Stefanov – Dean of Faculty of Public Health, Medical University Plovdiv, and Mr. Plamen Taushanov – Chair of Bulgarian Association for Patients’ Defence.

The foreign guests were another highlight of the event: “Comprehensive genomic profiling: in clinical practice and beyond” presented by Prof. Dr. Ido Wolf, Head of Oncology Division and Oncology Research Lab of Tel Aviv Medical Center, Israel was a part of Roche’s Company Symposium. Other lecturers and topics were “State-of-the-art lecture: Endometrial carcinoma: from Type I/II (endometrioid/nonendometrioid) to TCGA 4 types” presented by Prof. Dr. Jaime Prat, M.D., Ph.D., FRCPath – Emeritus Professor, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain;„Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer Susceptibility“ by Prof. Dr. Dijana Plaseska-Karanfilska, MD, PhD – Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Research Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology ” Georgi D. Efremov”, Republic of Macedonia.

The company symposium of Amgen Bulgara was focused on the multiple myeloma as a model of scientific progress – from diagnosis to treatment. Ass. Prof. Dr. Penka Ganeva, Dr. Kalina Ignatova, and Dr. Kamelia Milcheva did an overview of the benefits of the personalized medicine for the different stakeholders and did a biomarker to evaluate the clinical effect in cases of minimal residual disease in multiple myeloma and Carfilzomib (KYPROLIS) in patients with recurrent/refractory multiple myeloma. In the session, dedicated to personalized medicine in the field of oncology, Dr. Zhasmina Mihailova presented „Lung Cancer, its molecular diversity and state of the art targeted treatment”.

In the session titled “The New Faces of Personalized Medicine”, Prof. Dr. Georgi Hristov, Ass. Prof. Robert Penchovski from the Biological Institute of Sofia University, and Dr. Diana Pendicheva from Medical University Pleven introduced less known dimensions of personalized medicine, such as its application in allergology, microfluidics and functional nucleic acids, and prognostic genotyping of polymorphic candidate genes as a tool for optimizing pharmacotherapy in major depressive disorder: translational concepts and clinical reality.

Together with the already established professionals in the sphere, in the poster session of the conference, many young scientists presented their scientific projects, which is a positive sign for the motivation and enthusiasm of the next generation of scientists.

The fisr Balkan Conference on Personalized Medicine took place in Sofia on the 26th and 27th October 2017 in Best Western Expo Hotel. Institutional partners of the forum were the European Alliance for Personalized Medicine (EAPM), Center for Innovations in Medicine (CIM), the Romanian Alliance for Personalized Medicine (RAPM), Bulgarian Medicine Association, Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Alliance, and Medical University Pleven. The conference was the first of its kind in the Balkan region and presented scientific projects, new products, methods, and concepts in the field of precision and personalized medicine – diagnosis and therapy.

The Bulgarian Medical Alliance, who is institutional partner of BAPPM, was introduced by Dr. Julian Jordanov, Chair of the Accreditation Commission. He read a greeting letter from the BMA’s Chair, Dr. Ventsislav Grozev. Representatives of the Bulgarian Phramceutical Alliance were MPharm. Cvetanka Valchanova and MPharm. Todor Nadenov – members of the Board of BPA. The Minister of Healthcare, Prof. Dr. Nikolai Petrov, also sent a greeting letter to the organizers of the event.

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