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France to invest millions of euros in cancer-fighting genome medicine

A DNA molecule that is methylated on both strands on the center cytosine
A DNA molecule that is methylated on both strands on the center cytosine Christoph Bock / Max Planck Institute

France is to invest 670 million euros in setting up 12 centres for genome sequencing to help with the battle against cancer, diabetes and rare illnesses. Genome decoding can find suitable treatment for tumours that resist treatment and help sufferers find a cure for unusual diseases.

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Following recommendations in a report by medical experts submitted to Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Wednesday, the government is to invest 670 million euros in developing "personalised medicine", based on recent developments in genome decoding, Health Minister Marisol Touraine announced.

New discoveries and modern technology allow speedier and more precise diagnoses that allow more specific treatment, while making costly and ineffective examinations unnecessary.

Genetic decoding of tumours should allow better choices of existing treatments and allow new ones to be tested.

Genome-related medicine should also extend specialists' knowledge of common complaints like diabetes and allow patients suffering from rare diseases to find suitable treatment more quickly.

DNA sequencing can establish individuals' disposition to certain complaints and reactions to medicines.

While the first-ever DNA sequencing in 2003 took 10 years of work and cost three billion dollars, an analysis of the most important part of the genome can now be made in a few days for less than 1,000 euros.

Some of the money will come from companies, Touraine said.

Companies like Google, Apple and Facebook are interested in the sector and the US, China and the UK, which has invested 382 million euros over four years, have invested in it.

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