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Friday, December 3, 2021

Qatar genome research seeks to advance precision medicine across region


The programme aims to advance treatment of common, serious illnesses and conditions. 

With the prevalence of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes threatening Qatari and Arab populations, Doha has been investing hugely in medical research aimed at finding the most effective and up to date cures for such conditions.

At the forefront of these efforts is the Qatar Genome Programme (GNP) which focuses on massing the largest possible database of genetic information (genomes) from people living in Qatar to come up with improvements to existing medications as well as research new ways of curing diseases.

On Monday, the results of a study conducted by a team of researchers from Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar Genome Programme and a group of scientists from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) analysing over 6,000 whole genome sequences from Qatari citizens, were announced. 

The study, one of the first of its kind, found that 2.3 percent of Qataris with whole genome sequence data carried a pathogenic, or disease causing, variant in one of the 59 genes identified as medically actionable. Many of these genes are linked to inherited forms of common diseases such as cancer and heart disease. 

Dr. Amal Elfatih, a PhD from Hamad Bin Khalifa University, researcher at Sidra Hospital and leading researcher on the study said it “identified deleterious mutations that would result in specific medical recommendations.

“These medical recommendations, when implemented, can improve the participants’ and their relative health conditions by avoiding or improving the outcomes of the associated disease,” she added. 

Read also: Diabetes “contributing to 10%” of deaths in Qatar

Currently, more than 17% of the Gulf nation’s population is known to have diabetes, which can greatly affect their health if not monitored and treated accordingly.

With an estimated 10% of Qatar’s total deaths being linked to diabetes, early detection can play a significant role in preventing several health complications in later years, combined with proper treatment plans. 

With these staggering statistics the study conducted at GNP has been groundbreaking for the advancement of disease prevention and precision medicine within Qatar and experts believe it sheds an optimistic light on the future of disease control and prevention within the region as a whole.

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