UAE launches national genomics study to combat genetic diseases


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Dubai: The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has called upon all UAE nationals to participate in the Emirati Genome Programme, a ground-breaking national genomics initiative and one of the world’s largest.

The programme seeks to provide the best healthcare system for all Emiratis, understand the nature of the genetic diseases prevalent among the UAE population, implement personalised medicine and provide accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Accurate genomic studies can help in the the prevention of genetic and chronic diseases in the future generations, equip national competencies to re-shape the future of healthcare policies in cooperation with the highest medical research centers, foster the country’s position as a global innovation hub in the health sector, and raise the country’s profile in the Global Competitiveness Index.

Samples of 1,000 Emiratis

Launched in collaboration with the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, the genomic programme is one of the flagship initiatives of G42 Healthcare’s recently launched Omics Centre of Excellence, the largest and most technologically advanced omics facility in the region.

The pilot phase of the Emirati Genome Programme was successfully concluded and first de novo Emirati reference genome based on DNA samples from 1,000 UAE nationals, using cutting-edge next generation and third generation sequencing with artificial intelligence was establshed. The reference genome will be used as a type-standard against which individual genomes will be compared in the diagnosis of genetic conditions and informing treatment plans to provide personalised healthcare for citizens.

Inviting UAE nationals to participate in the programme, Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health, said, “In line with the UAE’s vision for the “Next 50 years”, development of a preventive healthcare system is one of our key priorities. As one of the most ambitious genomics programme worldwide, Emirati Genome Programme is our step towards providing a preventive and personalised healthcare system for the Emirati population. I call upon all UAE nationals to participate in the programme and support us in achieving our goal of providing innovative and world-class healthcare services to all Emiratis for a healthier future.”

Disease prevention

Al Owais added: “The project will facilitate UAE to enter a new era of genetic medicine based on the use of genetic information in the clinical care. By using genetic science and modern technologies of sequencing-based genomic profiling to identify the DNA fingerprinting, the porogramme would help prevent genetic and chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and asthma, as well as develop personalized treatment for each patient according to genetic factors.”

New milestone

Ashish Koshy, Chief Executive Officer of G42 Healthcare, said, “The Emirati Genome Programme is a new milestone in the field of UAE’s healthcare sector. We urge Emiratis across all age groups to participate in the programme and contribute to a healthier future for generations to come. We are looking forward to reach more Emiratis across UAE, who will play a crucial part in shaping the future of healthcare system of this nation.”

Emirati volunteers can now visit the sample collection sites in Al Maa’red Hall at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC) and the Biogenix Lab Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, where team members will be available to guide them through the process. Additional collection sites will be open across the country in the coming weeks and months. Participation is voluntary, and participants would be required to go through an informed consent process before joining the programme.


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