25th Nov 2019

Ninth Edition of Advance Health Explores Transformative Powers of Next-generation Sequencing: Dubai presented as a hub for innovative scientific research

Dubai Science Park (DSP), a science- and healthcare-focused business community, convened key industry stakeholders at the ninth edition of its Advance Health forum that highlighted the latest trends in next-generation sequencing (NGS).

Organised in partnership with Synapse Medical and Connect Communications, the event took place on 21 November under the theme ‘Next Generation Sequencing – Empowering Clinical Practice’.

NGS, also known as high-throughput sequencing, is the catch-all term used to describe a variety of modern technologies that enable faster and more economical DNA sequencing. For example, using NGS, an entire human genome can be sequenced within a single day. Additionally, the advanced functionality is visible in CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats), a subset of NGS. New research aims to deploy genome editing as a solution to bacterial infections since an alarming number of bacteria are now resistant to one or more antibiotics.

A panel discussion offered insights from a research, clinical, pharmaceutical and technological perspective. Panellists included Habiba Al Safar, Director of Biotechnology Center, Khalifa University, Ahmad Abou Tayoun, Director of Al Jalila Genomics Center, Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, Abdullah Al-Rahho, Channel Sales Lead, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi, Managing Director of DSP and Chairing Member of the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Equipment Taskforce of the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030.

Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi said: “We are committed to stimulating dialogue for the benefit of our business partners and the wider science community. Through embracing the imminent universal availability of NGS, we can fast-track the positioning of Dubai as a centre of life sciences research, clinical and pharmaceutical discovery, and bioscience innovation.”

He added: “As one of the most rapidly advancing technologies in history, NGS creates a wealth of vital transformative opportunities to expand our understanding of bio medicine, change the face of clinical care and improve human health. It also opens broad prospects for innovation and economic growth. In this context, it is safe to say that precision medicine is the next global space race.”

Habiba Al Safar said: “Our health is determined by our inherent differences combined with our lifestyles and environment. Today, with the enormous development in genomics research, we are moving away from the traditional approach of one-size-fits-all medical approach to more personalised treatments in healthcare based on individual genetic make-up. Understanding the relationship between your genome and lifestyle is an important first step and key to personalizing your health care.

Al Safar highlighted that NGS will bring in newer diagnostic capabilities and make advanced genetic testing more accessible in the UAE to ensure a longer, happier and healthier life for all its citizens. “Needless to say, a healthier population is a productive one, that also makes an important contribution to our country’s economic progress,” she added.

Dubai continues to play an important role in driving the local biotech industry forward. The emirate is expected to attract US$2.5 billion in investments in the pharmaceutical sector over the next five years as it ramps up efforts to motivate international organisations to open factories here as part of the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030. The introduction of new biotechnological products that cater to healthcare entities involved in diagnosis, prognosis and biopharmaceutical development is estimated to give a significant boost to the global market, with the Asia Pacific market poised for the fastest growth.

Dubai Science Park hosts the Advance Health series with the aim of promoting information sharing, encouraging networking opportunities and improving patient outcomes in the UAE. DSP supports the biotech sector through providing a business-friendly environment to attract leaders in the field.