Latest Blog From Mark Briggs

Posted on October 30th 2020

2020 will be a year that many will remember and look back on for a variety of reasons, possibly not fondly, with the current COVID-19 pandemic being the obvious one for many. However, for myself, 2020 has seen some other firsts: The Advanced Therapies Wales Programme was officially launched in August, I have been asked to write my first blog ever and I got married!

Advanced therapies, are sometimes referred to as advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs) or ‘cell and gene’ therapies, but essentially they are about offering hope, improved quality of life and positive outcomes to some of those who unfortunately suffer from chronic, debilitating and often life-limiting conditions. As pioneering scientists and clinicians have increased their knowledge and unravelled more about the origin of disease they have been able to start to harness and manipulate some of the building blocks of life – cells and genes – to combat those diseases. As such, there are examples of individuals who have benefited from receiving received one of these therapies such as: needing fewer blood transfusions if suffering from sickle cell anaemia or haemophilia; improved vision when suffering from an inherited eye disorder; regenerated cartilage defects that had resulted from various injuries; and even durable, curative responses to some terminal blood cancers.  However, it is still very vital to remember that a vast majority of these therapies are still in a development phase, with very few approved for use, and that they would likely only benefit a few individuals with a particular condition or disease profile.

This is where the Advanced Therapies Wales programme steps in. As mentioned in a written statement on Precision Medicine initiative by Vaughan Gething, Minister for Health & Social Care, we are ‘living in an era of rapid technological innovation’ and ‘entering into a new era of healthcare’. Wales has a clear ambition, remit and mandate to be a global front runner in the race to embrace and is well positioned to harness the benefits that precision medicine brings, through the combination of integrated diagnostics and advanced targeted therapeutics. Exciting times indeed!

As such, I am really looking forward to working with my co-workers within the programme and the many colleagues from organisations such as the NHS, academia, education, commercial and charitable sectors, at both a national and UK level, who share my passion and who will help drive forward the necessary innovation and developments that will help ‘mainstream’ the new therapies.

I often ponder upon what healthcare of the future will look like, when I am long gone and my daughter is my age now. How close to ‘Star Trek’ will it really be? Whilst I do not know the answer, I am convinced that advanced therapies will key and core to that future. I would like to be part of this transformation and revolution in healthcare and to leave a legacy for my daughter and Wales. I hope that those reading this blog would like to be part of that journey too. If you do and you think that you can help offer support, would like to collaborate or partner with the Advanced Therapies Wales Programme, or even just want to know more then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Take care and stay safe.



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