Qatar growing as a hub for genetic medicine

31 July 2014

A partnership between Illumina, Alliance Global and the Sidra Medical and Research Centre in Qatar will bring Illumina’s HiSeq X Ten Sequencing Technology to the Middle East and North Africa in a ‘first of its kind’ facility to help the region develop genetic mapping projects.

Housed in the Sidra Medical and Research Centre, in the Qatari capital of Doha, the facility’s first aim will be the creation of the Arab consensus genome, to provide a deeper understanding of the genetic variations which contribute to the health of the population group.

Sidra’s Chief Research Officer Dr Francesco Marincola said “Implementing genomic medicine in and around Qatar requires an Arab reference genome set that will provide an in-depth knowledge of genetic variations in the population group. The new level of sequence-based knowledge of genetic variation will allow us to implement genomic medicine systematically and on a large scale.” 

Genomic and personalised medicine is a hot topic in Qatar with last month’s announcement of a new centre for personalised and precision medicine in Qatar, along with the National Qatar Genome Strategy which was announced at the end of last year. The new facility will deliver research programs which align with the National Qatar Genome Strategy in prioritising translational research. Earlier this year Genomic research identified 37 variants in 33 genes associated with inherited diseases in the Qatari population, which potentially could be used to make premarital genetic screening more effective.

The Centre will initially cater for high-end applications, such as human whole genome sequencing for rare genetic diseases and population studies. 

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