AXA Assistance is an independent subsidiary of the AXA Group with more than 33 alarm centres around the world operating 24hrs round the clock and 365 days a year.
With a humble beginning that dates back to 1959 in Barcelona, assisting travellers who were involved in holiday mishaps - most commonly vehicle accidents - and dealing with the legal issues that subsequently developed. AXA Assistance has grown from just focusing on emergency situations to providing everyday assistance. Synonymous with the brand, the AXA Assistance is the preferred assistance provider delivering top service standards to our clients with one case in every 15 seconds. (The aforementioned description originated from AXA Assistance website.)
The following interview is a conversation among Ms Rachel Lim and two AXA professionals: Serge Morelli, CEO of AXA Assistance and Xavier Blanchard, Asia Region CEO. Their discussions centralize on the topic, Regenerative Medicine, and on why AXA Assistance considers Regenerative Medicine a frontier in Science.
Rachel (R): What is regenerative medicine, and in which areas of healthcare is it applied to?
AXA: Regenerative medicine is the use of stem cells to regenerate organs of the human body which have been deteriorated by a disease. These stem cells can be original stem cells like umbilical cord blood or induced stem cells manufactured from other cells. These treatments are now tested experimentally for a number of conditions such as, replacing new ischaemic cells after an ischaemic heart attack, eye diseases, bladder diseases and blood cancers.
R: What are some of the current challenges that experts in the field of regenerative medicine are facing, and how do you expect the market to grow in the future?
AXA: There are two main trends in regenerative medicine: (i) “anti-ageing” practiced in some clinics with little scientific background and (ii) medical treatment for a specific disease experimented in major university hospitals which has received massive scientific attention and the research work has been extensively studied. “Scientific” regenerative medicine is the obvious scientific research option to invest in for it produces the best hopes and, it is one of the major frontiers in clinical medicine and in science, and it still has a lot of room for future research work.
R: How can regenerative medicine change the treatment options for patients?
AXA: Regenerative medicine, when it is successfully performed, can change patients’ lives very significantly. Regenerating an organ simply replaces the necessity of an organ transplant. For instance, kidneys, bone marrow transplant, or the need of life long medication e.g. pancreatic disease. It also offers the possibility to replace chemotherapies among leukemia patients. This is one of the major reasons on why regenerative medicine is so exciting, even if it is still at research level.
R: How does Asia figure in this particular market? What benefits can regenerative medicine bring to Asia, and what can Asia bring to research in Regenerative Medicine?
AXA: Some countries in Asia are very active in this field. China comes first in number of experimental researches, followed by Japan. In this massive research adventure, every team counts, every progress, and even every failure contributes to the global progress of medicine. The key is to share what is done through serious documented publications and enable the global community of research benefit from what was already been done in other areas of the world.
R: What are some examples of new research and clinical trials being conducted in this area?
AXA: The following are some examples of new research and clinical trials,
- Vision: Glaucoma, Macular degeneration
- Earing: presbyacousis
- Leaver: Chronic C hepatitis
- Heart: Myocardial Infarction
- Bones: osteoporosis, accelerated rebuilding of the femoral head, replacing knee and hip prosthesis
R: What does AXA Assistance do? What is AXA Assistance’s position in the regenerative medicine market and how do you hope you will grow and evolve in the near future?
AXA:AXA Assistance ambition is to be the best advisor for its patients in terms of choosing the best facility for their pathologies. As we consider regenerative medicine to be a major medical progress in the future, it is very important for us to know where the research happens, the team members and what they are working on, as well as their progress. Even if it is not for immediate action, it is important for us to have foresight, and be ready for the upcoming knowledge in medicine and products for better clinical outcomes. For us, to be aware of ongoing regenerative medicine research work in hospital, serve as an excellent indicator of the hospitals’ medical quality, and often it is major hospitals that are actively involved in this area of research. This is because regenerative medicine research often requires a substantial amount of scientific and multidisciplinary assets to be the top players in the field.
This interview was conducted by editor: Rachel Lim.
Edited by Yuhui Lin
About the Interviewees
Xavier Blanchard is regional CEO of AXA Assistance Asia since 2013.
Xavier started his career in the AXA Group in 1991 as Marketing Manager at AXA France, where he held successive positions as Life Operations Executive (1998) and Head of Operations & Customer Relations for AXA Banque (in 2002). In 2004, he was appointed Chief Marketing Officer of AXA Life Japan where he held the next 4 years, with a strong focus on product development, brand & advertising, operational marketing.
Xavier was afterwards Director of Offer & Innovation / Global Head of savings at AXA Headquarters in Paris (2007-2011). From 2011 until 2013, he was Regional Chief Marketing Officer at AXA Asia: 8 countries, 17 Business Units.
Serge MORELLI is the Chairman & CEO of AXA Assistance
Serge Morelli holds an engineering degree from Orléans University's School of Energy and Materials, and a dual Master’s degree in mine engineering from the MINES Paris Tech Graduate School. He began his career at the Crédit du Nord bank, where he managed all home banking and monetics developments (bank cards, electronic payment terminals, ATMs, etc.). He joined the AXA Group in 1992 as head of IT programming for life, accident and health insurance products, then, in 2001, he took on the role of IS Director for AXA France. In 2003 he became Senior Executive Vice President for AXA's western region, in charge of individual and corporate customers, and in 2006 he was appointed Human Resources Director of AXA France. On 1st November 2009, he joined AXA Assistance as Chairman and CEO.