Inclusive innovation. This is the direction for which the future of cities and health passes.
He is convinced of it Barry Greene , president of Alnylam , biotech, founded in 2002, involved in the translation of RNA interference (RNAi) into a new class of innovative drugs for patients with limited or inadequate therapeutic options.
President, health and citizenship. What future?
Cities are changing rapidly and deeply. There are ongoing processes that can not be underestimated, which start from one digital revolution capable of opening new frontiers also for research.
The future of cities and health inevitably passes through innovation .
This is the road that offers cities, and more generally health systems, the opportunity to guarantee people a longer and healthier life.
It must change the approach to the idea of illness and that of care. First of all, it is necessary to learn to make a distinction between pathologies in order to intervene in the most suitable way, with a consequent economic benefit.
There are some diseases, also very widespread, that can be avoided by investing on the prevention . This translates, in practice, into the adoption of a healthy lifestyle, from nutrition to sporting activity. In this way, the emergence of these diseases, such as obesity, is avoided, with direct consequences on the quality of life of people and on the health system, relieved by important costs. It is necessary to start a process of sensitization towards the issue of prevention .
Other diseases, however, can be cured by resorting to inexpensive drugs, which have lost patent coverage. Finally, there is a family of pathologies, more and more residual, that require innovative and more expensive treatments.
Working on the culture of prevention , offers the opportunity to free resources to invest in research for more complex diseases, such as rare diseases.
How do you judge the relationship between the Italian health system and innovation?
Italy is an excellent test to evaluate the training path of the “cities of the future”.
The Italian regions often have peculiarities for the prevalence and type of these diseases. We are present with well 12 trials in progress , in as many hospitals. A presence that allows us to say that we have a broad knowledge of the territories and their specificities.
In Lombardy, for example, the distribution by gender and age groups of patients with rare diseases shows that the prevalence is higher in the female gender, almost 60% is concentrated in the age groups 40 to 60 years.
Approximately 45,000 people are affected by this rare disease in this region. 17% of rare patients suffer from different conditions and, due to the complexity of care and high heterogeneity, have a per-capita cost of over 50 thousand euros a year.
An example of inclusive innovation?
We are experimenting, in collaboration with KPMG , also a path of ” inclusive innovation “In Abruzzo, where all the actors, public and private, are called to dialogue. The goal is to make the network that goes more and more efficient from diagnosis to taking charge of the patient to free space for innovation and resources for care. It emerges that targeted interventions, even if they involve some initial costs, favor one reduction of expenditure charged to the citizen and the national health system in the short term.
Which pathologies does Alnylam look for in the future?
We are at an advanced stage with studies relating to various diseases. In addition to amyloidosis hATTR, in fact, we have achieved important results on the front of porphyria and hemophilia. Moreover, among the next objectives there is to work on the issue related to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.