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Sat 5 May 2018 10:00 AM

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Dubai health chiefs in talks with Illumina over Genome project

Ambitious project aims to reduce disease prevention through gene surveying

Dubai health chiefs in talks with Illumina over Genome project

Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has revealed it has held discussions with Illumina, a company in genome technologies, as part of plans to implement its Genome Project, which aims to reduce disease prevention through gene surveying.

The project aims to use scanning to detect changes in the genes, chromosomes, and proteins that can lead to genetic diseases, allowing researchers to prevent and eradicate chronic diseases and cancer.

It can also reduce the financial burden of treating chronic diseases, in addition to slowing down the ageing process.

Humaid Al Qutami, chairman and director general of the DHA, received Paul Johns, the director of population genomics at Illumina, which has established labs around the world, a statement said.

Johns said Illumina is keen on collaborating with the authority in the next phase of Genome, adding that he hoped to establish a partnership between the DHA and Genomics England.

The DHA shared the implementation plan of the Genome Project and its expected outcomes, which ultimately revolve around exterminating chronical and genetic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and obesity.

The project’s timetable extends over 24 months, during which samples will be collected to analyse DNA sequences, and recording the results in the data bank. A second phase involves automated learning and artificial intelligence to issue reports that support research, forecast future disorders and epidemics, and plan preventive measures.

Al Qutami said: "Forming genome laboratories in Dubai signals a new phase, where our forecasts for the future of the health and medical services sector begin to materialise. The labs will establish the first national genetic database for future research, lending support to decision-makers as they set plans and strategies for the future of the health care sector.”

He added that the DHA is dedicating resources to implement Genome, mandating a number of its affiliate organisations to carry out its execution, such as the Department of Pathology and Genetics, and the Dubai Cord Blood and Research Centre.

It has also formed a committee of genetics experts.

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