On April 20th, an international audience came to Institut Curie to support LifeTime, an European consortium aiming to advance our understanding of human cells and tissues during disease and thereby make the early detection and prediction of the trajectory of a disease a reality. Scientific and economic advisors from 14 embassies and diplomatic missions as well as representatives from UNESCO, the OECD and French ministries followed the invitation to learn more about this FET Flagship candidate.
Why such an engagement? Because LifeTime is an ambitious project, coordinated by the Max Delbrück Centrum-MDC in Berlin and Institut Curie and supported by the Helmoltz Society and the CNRS. The project strives to revolutionise disease detection, diagnosis and treatment by empowering modern medicine with novel technologies and approaches exploiting single-cell multi-omics combined with imaging technologies. Leading scientists from 15 European have united to close the gap in our understanding of how genomes function within cells within tissues, and how, vice versa, changes in the tissue and its environment influence the genomic activity of the cell, especially when tissues progress towards disease. Following cells through time, from a healthy to a diseased state, during treatment and treatment response, will help provide tools to determine a patient’s current health status and predict its future. By developing and combining recent disruptive technologies, such as single cell technologies, advanced imaging, computational methods, artificial intelligence and machine learning strategies, LifeTime will prepare the ground for a paradigm shift in basic and medical sciences by overcoming fundamental shortcomings in current approaches.
LifeTime represents the joined efforts of two former initiatives, the 4D Nucleome in Europe and Human Cells Treks and includes single-cell biologists, geneticists, epigeneticists, computer scientists, imaging experts, mathematicians, (many from the EpiGeneSys Network of Excellence), clinicians, pathologists and physicists. More than 50 institutes were involved in stage one of the application process.
“It is still early days, says Geneviève Almouzni, director of the research Center at Institut Curie and co-coordinator of this project, and this is the most critical time to increase awareness of our action worldwide. This grand challenge will be transforming for science, medicine and society and we need maximal support from informed society” ‘Future and Emerging Technologies Flagships (such as the ongoing Human Brain Project, the Graphene and the Quantum Technologies Flagship) are funded by the European Commission with one billion Euros for ten years. The competition for the next two Flagships has just started, and proposals have been submitted.