Japan and Qatar partner on personalised medicine

7 January 2015

The Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI) is to partner with the Japanese RIKEN Preventive Medicine & Diagnosis Innovation Program (RIKEN-PMI)  on new initiatives in preventive and personalised medicine in both countries.

This is the first such collaboration between Qatar and Japan in    biomedical research and personalised healthcare, intended to foster innovation and accelerate the transfer from research into healthcare practice to meet population health needs.

QBRI says that the joint laboratories and hospital-based programmes underpins the mission of the parent organisation the Qatar Foundation to ‘build Qatar’s innovation and technology capacity by improving and transforming healthcare through research in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases’.

RIKEN-PMI will provide training and transfer of knowledge and technologies related to genomics and transcriptomics for application in the context of diagnostics and personalised medicine.

The first project will be in the area of Qatar’s most common form of cancer, breast cancer, in collaboration with the Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC); the HMC has already established a centre for Precision and Personalised Medicine in Qatar in partnership with Duke University in the US.

The new breast cancer project will harness RIKEN’s genomic technology to produce and characterise genomic cancer signatures, enabling new biomarker discovery and the development of personalised treatments targeted to unique molecular features of tumour sub-groups.

QRBI Executive Director Dr Hilal Lashuel said the partnership “offers unique opportunities for the molecular study of cancer and familial patterns of disease in Qatar”.

This collaboration is the latest in a pipeline of similar initiatives centred around developing Qatar as a hub for genomic research and personalised medicine, using partnerships with leading research and healthcare institutions. It will be interesting to see whether Qatar is also able to take the opportunity to simultaneously develop robust policy plans to ensure that adoption of emerging innovation s in healthcare practice for population benefit proceeds as swiftly as possible.

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