Created in 2018, the European Metrology Netword (EMN) TraceLabMed, one of the networks of the EURAMET association, brings together a dozen of European laboratories interested in the traceability of medical test results. Vincent Delatour, Director of Bioanalysis Research at LNE, has just been elected President. We interviewed him to find out more about the EMN and its objectives.
It is a great honour because, even if I was already vice-president of the EMN until then, it is a recognition of my work and my contribution to the network. It is also, through me, recognition of the work done at LNE over the years in medical biology.
First of all, the EMNs are networks created by EURAMET, the European association of national metrology institutes, in which several laboratories are structured around a specific theme. In this case, the traceability of medical tests. The objective of this network is to federate the European national laboratories, which are already actively working on this topic, in order to organise research topics and rationalise resources to meet the needs of stakeholders (laboratories, institutions, industry).
It is essential. Laboratory tests are at the heart of modern healthcare: it is estimated that 70% of medical decisions depend on in vitro diagnostics (IVD) test results. Metrological traceability makes it possible to offer reliable and comparable test results, regardless of the laboratory, the IVD supplier or the instrumentation used. In European laboratories, such as LNE, we are working on the development of reference standards for some of the main biomarkers analysed in medical laboratories and hospitals in order to provide ever more reliable analysis results. It is this work that the EMN aims to organise and structure.
Firstly, we will finalise a major consultation of stakeholders in order to understand their needs and to start structuring the laboratories' research to meet them. To be able working together, it is essential to have a clear understanding of who does what so that everyone is aware of what the other are doing. Following this consultation, we will have to define bridgeheads for certain themes. That is to say, we will have to direct the activities of some laboratories towards specific research areas in order to cover all the needs, which are considerable. This remains challenging because the laboratories most often work with national funding. We cannot therefore impose anything. So there is still work to be done to reach a consensus, because each of the laboratories remain attached to its independence and national priorities. But that is the whole point of the EMNs: to structure and rationalise research activities at a European level. Then there is the question of funding, which is another major objective : financial self-sustainability.
At present, the launch of the EMN is only very modestly financed by the JNP (joint network project) 18NET02, which does not allow conducting very advanced technical activities. The EMN operates via funding from the National Metrology Institutes and it is clear that we need to find funding and generate income. This is not easy in the field of IVDs because, even if they are obliged to do so, manufacturers do not always have the possibility to properly establish metrological traceability of measurement results to certified reference materials or reference methods. This will be one of our main objectives in the future: to change this situation by making our metrological solutions accessible and relevant to industry. This will require us to listen to the needs of all stakeholders: laboratories, institutions and industry.