FMI Magnification of miniature chips: Single cells are encapsulated in tiny droplets and supplied with reagents for further processing. © Felix Petermann, MDC/LifeTime

September 8, 2020

LifeTime - Researchers partner to improve European healthcare

The FMI is a partner of the pan-European LifeTime initiative. In two publications, researchers involved with the initiative - including FMI group leader Susan Gasser - present a detailed roadmap of how to leverage the latest scientific breakthroughs and technologies over the next decade, to track, understand and treat human cells throughout an individual’s lifetime.

The LifeTime initiative has developed a strategy to advance personalized treatment for five major disease classes: cancer, neurological-, infectious-, chronic inflammatory- and cardiovascular diseases. The aim is a new age of personalized, cell-based interceptive medicine for Europe with the potential of improved health outcomes and more cost-effective treatment, resulting in profoundly changing a person’s healthcare experience.

To form a functioning, healthy body, our cells follow developmental paths during which they acquire specific roles in tissues and organs. But when they deviate from their healthy course, they accumulate changes leading to disease which remain undetected until symptoms appear. At this point, medical treatment is often invasive, expensive and inefficient. However, now we have the technologies to capture the molecular make-up of individual cells and to detect the emergence of disease or therapy resistance much earlier. Using breakthrough single-cell and imaging technologies in combination with artificial intelligence and personalized disease models will allow us to not only predict disease onset earlier, but also to select the most effective therapies for individual patients. Targeting disease-causing cells to intercept disorders before irreparable damage occurs will substantially improve the outlook for many patients and has the potential of saving billions of Euros of disease-related costs in Europe.

The Nature perspective article “LifeTime and improving European healthcare through cell-based interceptive medicine” and the LifeTime Strategic Research Agenda explain how these technologies should be rapidly co-developed, transitioned into clinical settings and applied to the five major disease areas. Close interactions between European infrastructures, research institutions, hospitals and industry will be essential to generate, share and analyze LifeTime’s big medical data across European borders. The initiative’s vision advocates ethically responsible research to benefit citizens all across Europe.

Susan Gasser, FMI group leader and Director Emeritus comments: “The LifeTime initiative has brought together scientists from many fields including molecular biologists, cell biologists, data experts, clinicians and engineers - with a common focus. The goal is to exploit the dramatic progress we have made in recognizing healthy cells through molecular and cellular datasets, and to use this to characterize degenerative or disease states. The future of healthcare will depend largely on our ability to identify patterns of disease progression earlier, so that treatments are more effective. Patients all over the world will benefit from the scientific advances made possible by this Europe-wide initiative. It is great that Swiss scientists are also involved.”

» LifeTime Strategic Research Agenda
» Nature perspective article
» LifeTime website

FMI Magnification of miniature chips: Single cells are encapsulated in tiny droplets and supplied with reagents for further processing. © Felix Petermann, MDC/LifeTime

About LifeTime
The LifeTime Initiative is a growing community of over 100 leading European research institutions and hospitals, together with international advisers and over 80 supporting companies. LifeTime includes the preeminent European labs developing multi-omic strategies, scientific infrastructures, bioimaging and computational technologies, as well as labs in the area of personalized disease models, bioethicists and leading clinician scientists. The FMI has been a partner of the initiative since its inception in January 2028.