Middle Eastern Healthcare Enters a New Era with Genomic Sequencing at the Forefront
The field of genomics has revolutionized the way we approach healthcare, allowing us to better understand the genetic basis of diseases and develop more targeted treatments.
In recent years, the Middle East has made significant investments in genomic sequencing infrastructure and research capabilities, positioning itself as a global leader in precision medicine.
This investment has paved the way for a new era of healthcare in the region, one where next-generation sequencing (NGS) is at the forefront of diagnosis and treatment.
NGS is a high-throughput deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequencing technology that can generate large amounts of genetic data in a short amount of time.
In this article, we will explore applications of next-generation sequencing (NGS) in the Middle East and innovations around the region.
Applications of NGS in the Middle East
The Middle East, with its diverse population and high prevalence of certain genetic diseases, has been at the forefront of NGS applications, which include:
1. Personalized Medicine
Personalized medicine aims to provide tailored treatment plans for individual patients based on their genetic makeup. NGS technology plays a significant role in personalized medicine by sequencing the genome of a patient, which enables researchers and doctors to predict prevention strategies for a particular disease for every individual.
The Middle East has a growing prevalence of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, which are responsible for 77% of all fatalities in the U.A.E.
To address these challenges, Biogenix Labs has developed more than 250 clinical genetic testing panels that incorporate advanced sequencing technologies. These testing panels are aimed at offering valuable information and enabling the timely detection and management of cancer, rare disorders, metabolic diseases, and other genetic ailments in the region.
Moreover, Biogenix’s sequencing service has a quick turnaround time, allowing for more timely and accurate diagnoses and treatment plans.
2. Population Genomics
Population genomics involves the sequencing and analysis of DNA from large groups of individuals to identify genetic variations and to understand how these variations contribute to health and disease in different populations.
For instance, The Omics Centre of Excellence in Masdar City has a sequencing capability of over 500,000 whole genome sequencing (WGS) samples per year, leveraging the power of three world-leading sequencing platforms, such as Illumina and Oxford nanopore.
Moreover, the U.A.E.’s National Genome Strategy is an initiative by the U.A.E. government to sequence the genomes of Emirati citizens to aid in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases.
The initiative aims to produce a reference genome specific to U.A.E. citizens, which will help researchers understand the genetic factors contributing to various diseases and develop personalized treatment plans.
3. Drug Development and Research
NGS technology has also been used in drug development and research, as it enables the identification of novel drug targets and the evaluation of drug efficacy.
On October 24th, 2022, G42 Healthcare, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) health-tech company based in Abu Dhabi, partnered with Swiss precision medicine company Saphetor SA.
The collaboration will help G42 Healthcare support the health of future generations while reinforcing the U.A.E.’s reputation as a hub for global innovation and research in the field of clinical genomics.
The partnership will leverage Saphetor’s VarSome, a clinically certified cloud-based bioinformatics platform that empowers fast and accurate variant discovery, annotation, and interpretation of next-generation sequencing data.
Furthermore, Saphetor’s VarSome also enables and expands the scale and scope of best-in-class sequencing as a service offering, powered by a comprehensive molecular database of 140 curated and aggregated genomic data sources.
On April 3rd, 2023, G42 Healthcare announced a partnership with Bravo Pharma, a world-leading healthcare specialist based in India, to provide AI-based healthcare services across the Middle East and Asia-Pacific region.
Moreover, the partnership aims to provide best-in-class integrated and multidisciplinary care in Central Asia, Africa, and India through the development of highly efficient clinical reporting systems using bioinformatics and AI.
Similarly, on October 19th, 2022, the partnership between G42 Healthcare and leading U.S.-based diagnostics, genomics, and biotech company ProPhase Labs, was announced, which has enabled the development of sequencing solutions for clinical, consumer, and research purposes.
This has driven a revolutionary shift toward precision medicine, where data is being used in population genomic programs, identification of novel drug targets in clinical trials, and research and serves the biopharma and biotech industries.
Beyond genomics, on February 1st, 2023, G42 Healthcare also joined forces with SomaLogic, a protein biomarker discovery and clinical diagnostics company based in Colorado.
SomaLogic, leading in data-driven proteomics technology, has brought world-class proteomics to the region, a significant step toward providing multi-omics in the region.
Moreover, this increasing adoption of NGS in various diagnostics and research fields, growing prevalence of non-communicable disorders, and advancement in the performance of NGS platforms are driving growth in the market.
According to data insights from BIS Research, the Asia-Pacific and Middle East NGS market was valued at $1.05 billion in 2022 and is anticipated to reach $2.37 billion by 2027, witnessing a CAGR of 17.56% during the forecast period 2022–2027.
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The Middle East has seen an acceleration in genomic research and its applications, owing to collaborations between local and international institutions and companies.
Given the right technical expertise, sample processing infrastructure, and access to skilled professionals, NGS has the potential to democratize data, empowering governments, researchers, and healthcare providers to drive progress and improve health outcomes.
As we move toward precision medicine, the need for genomic data is only going to increase, and NGS will play a crucial role in delivering it.
It is expected that with the advancement of NGS technologies, the Middle East will see significant progress in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of chronic diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases.
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