The 40th Congress of the Italian Pharmacological Society (SIF)
This issue of Pharmadvances features the presentations (as abstracts) of the 40th Congress of the Italian Pharmacological Society (SIF), which took place online due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As readers will realize, pharmacological research in Italy and globally is going strong, thanks to advances in basic research, their quick implementation by the pharmaceutical industry, and to the availability of new drugs and formulations. Notable examples include the pharmacology of non-coding RNA, the role of epigenetic modulations, or gene therapy, just to name a few. Most of these areas of research were unheard of only few years ago. The fact that such topics represent a notable proportion of the Congress testifies to the swift evolution of basic pharmacology and its clinical applications. Precision medicine is also growing rapidly thanks to the even-increasing availability of big data and of algorithms that are able to “crunch” them and extract valuable information.
The opening Plenary Lecture is, quite obviously, dedicated to SARS-CoV-2 and the dramatic consequences it is having on our lives. Yet, the key message pharmacologists worldwide will certainly extract is that the unique, interdisciplinary combination of basic research, informatics, clinical research, industrial progress, etc. is leading to a much better characterization of an otherwise elusive virus, to the ultra-hurried production of efficacious vaccines, and to the active search for antiviral agents. Even though time appears to flow very slowly, fighting Covid-19 at this pace is an incredible achievement of humankind and, particularly, of pharmacologists.
The most important outcome of the meeting will undoubtedly be the great need for future investments and strict collaborations between basic science pharmacology, industry, and politics. Indeed, the new therapeutic approaches discussed at the Congress are quite more expensive (though more successful) than the more traditional ones we are accustomed to. Only careful cost analyses and a new paradigm applied to the “willingness to pay” as far as research and development are concerned will eventually translate into a sustainable health care system that can provide its citizens with the most advanced and effective therapies.
In conclusion, the 40th Congress of the Italian Pharmacological Society represents a unique opportunity to look through the window of innovation and gauge successes and failures. Only dedicated researchers and enlightened entrepreneurs will grant humanity better treatments and improved quality of life.
Francesco Visioli, PhD