BioWorld International Correspondent

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Personalized medicine will be a reality by 2030, thanks to novel biotech drugs and regenerative medicine, the European Union has confidently predicted. An expert group assembled by Germany, which held the rotating European Union presidency until the end of June, last week published a 20-year forecast of the perspectives for the bioeconomy, and highlighted not only the scientific potential but also the need to reform Europe's support framework for biotechnology.

While severe chronic disease is expected to be treatable by transplanting industrially produced stem cells, and organ replacement and anticancer vaccines will be viable therapeutic options, European success will depend on changes in research funding, resource development and regulation, the paper warned.

"The number of qualified people will not keep up with demand," it said. "To counter the strong international competition for talented scientists, European public research institutions need to receive adequate funding and to provide more reliable and attractive career options with competitive salaries and positions."

The paper also urged competitive tax incentives to attract private capital, and European and national funding programs providing seed money. The founders of early stage companies should be encouraged by tailored funding and by affordable access to external expertise. And public-private cooperation in industrial biotechnology should extend further downstream, in particular to validate new concepts by pilot and demonstration plants.

In addition, streamlining the patent process will help reduce the cost of intellectual property protection. Common European standards for biotechnological research with stem cells or field trials of GM plants are needed, and they should not be higher than those in the U.S., the paper added.

Predictably, given the continuing disarray in European biotech regulation, the paper also emphasized that EU legislation "needs to be fully and correctly transposed into national law." It pointed out that the implementation of EU legislation "is not always harmonized across the member states, which leads to inconsistencies, such as diverging national requirements and guidelines."