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UAE unveils National Genome Strategy to improve personalized healthcare

More than 400,000 people have provided blood samples and DNA cheek swabs.

UAE unveils National Genome Strategy to improve personalized healthcare
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

As it works to provide personalized medical treatment for every citizen, the UAE has begun a national strategy to map the DNA of every Emirati.

The National Genome Strategy was launched in the presence of President Sheikh Mohamed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

“Science and knowledge have always been key drivers of the UAE’s development. Our priority is to ensure the best health care and quality of life for our people,” said Sheikh Mohamed.

“The National Genome Strategy highlights the country’s position as a hub for advanced healthcare research, innovation, and future technology use,” he added.

More than 400,000 people have already provided blood samples and DNA cheek swabs. The findings would get scientists one step closer to providing personalized treatment and help diagnose conditions caused by changes in the DNA.

According to Sarah Al Amiri, secretary general of the Emirates Genome Council, the program is one of the most comprehensive genomic efforts to improve preventive and personalized health care.

“Understanding the genetic makeup of our citizens will help medical teams deliver personalized healthcare services to each one. [The] information will help us develop solutions to limit the spread of genetic and chronic diseases, such as diabetes, blood pressure conditions, and cancer,” said Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Future Technology.

“Our database today contains whole genome sequencing data from around 400,000 citizens. Our target is to collect one million samples nationwide, and we look forward to the participation of all Emiratis,” she further said.

Work is underway on many clinical programs that use the available genome data, including the first personalized precision medicine program for oncology in the region, initially targeting breast cancer. The advanced premarital genetic screening program, pharmacogenomics programs, and many more will be piloted soon. 

The work under the strategy will be carried out over the next ten years. 

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