ABU DHABI: Healthcare is still in an era of imprecision contrary to popular belief, Dr. Gianvito Martino, a professor of experimental biology, told Investopia 2023 on Friday.
Speaking during a session on innovations in precision healthcare, he said doctors and researchers must first understand the molecular mechanisms underlying disorders.
“We are understanding that nature has already solved a lot of mysteries because we are evolving as living organisms for 3.5 billion years,” said Martino.
“What we understood in the past years is that we have to copy what nature is already doing.”
Participating in the session was Dr. Michael Severino, CEO of Tessera Therapeutics, who claimed that one modern game-changer was the ability to study human disease in people rather than animals for better insight.
The necessary technologies did not exist in the past, which made it difficult to examine human subjects, he added.
Severino, who joined Tessera in 2022, brought more than two decades of biopharmaceutical leadership to the company.
He said studying human diseases coupled with expanding the notion of what therapeutics is necessary to keep advancing in the field.
“It’s not just a small molecule, or a therapeutic monoclonal antibody, we have genetic therapies that correct inborn errors in metabolism that can deliver new instructions to cells to keep building abilities we never had before,” explained Severino.
Elaborating on the topic, Martino said the world was entering a ‘natural medicine’ era with it’s current approaches.
“We are using this cutting and paste system, just looking into this, learning how this was done and trying to force the copy,” he said.
“This is what we are doing, and this is what the revolution of the 21st century, (it’s) called the century of biology for this reason.”
Severino said that methodologies have changed, and the healthcare sector is witnessing an urgent need for intelligence, imagination, and creativity in order to come up with revolutionary breakthroughs.
It takes courage to venture out into such projects because the path is never straightforward, he added.
Tessera Therapeutics focuses on advancing gene writing technology and envisions a future where diseases can be treated at their source through an optimal gene-writing system, which deliverers therapeutic instructions to the necessary tissue.
The company’s aim is to alter the human genome and develop precise, durable therapeutic change to cure even the most challenging genetic diseases.
Though there have been evident technological advancements in the healthcare sector, Martino believes that machines are not the solution.
“Technology should be a mean, it’s not the end and it’s not the goal,” he said.
Taking the conversation further, the experimental biology professor said successful advancement in the field requires a combination of academia, a government force, and investors.
Martino has co-authored more than 250 original articles and book chapters.
His scientific interests range from the elucidation of the pathogenic mechanisms of immune-mediated central nervous system disorders to the development of gene and stem cell-based therapies for the treatment of these disorders.
Investopia 2023, which ran from March 2-3, was held in Abu Dhabi, and addressed various topics affecting the global economy today.
The two-day event allowed experts from around the world to exchange knowledge, participate in seminars, and sign memorandums of understanding with local businesses and investors.