In an effort to shed light on rare genetic disorders underlying certain health conditions, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre (ICLDC) has joined forces with Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination (ZHO) to conduct research that could potentially improve diagnosis, prevention, and treatment choice.
Mubadala – on behalf ICLDC – and ZHO signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) today, covering the research project into monogenic disorders as well as plans to raise awareness of the importance of genetic research.
While ICLDC has an active research institute, ZHO was established by His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, as an umbrella organization for a range of humanitarian bodies, social services and special needs institutions.
Signing the MOU, Eng. Abdulla Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, Head of Mubadala Healthcare, said: “The aim of this project is to provide a better understanding of the monogenic disorders landscape in the UAE and we are enormously grateful for the support of Zayed Higher Organisation in facilitating participation of subjects in the project, and helping to increase awareness of how vital research like this is for future population health, and for establishing Abu Dhabi as a knowledge hub, in line with Vision 2030.”
According to the World Health Organization, although individually rare, collectively, monogenic disorders affect millions of people worldwide. They are referred to as ‘monogenic’ because the disorder is caused by a single gene alteration and, currently, over 10,000 human disorders are estimated to be monogenic.
Signing the MOU HE Abdullah Al-Humaidan, Secretary-General of Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination, said: “The results of the research are potentially invaluable to the future health of the nation. Knowledge obtained from this study may lead to improvements in diagnostics for people for determination and their families.
“Zayed Higher Organization for People of Determination, chaired by His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Zayed Al Nahyan, recognizes the importance of the role played by health and scientific institutions in providing services and care to people of determination, and we deeply appreciate ICLDC’s efforts to uphold this national responsibility as a state-of-the-art and rapidly growing research institution.”
HE Al-Humaidan continued: “We always seek to extend bridges of communication with all institutions and organizations of society for a better life for people of determination. This can be achieved by raising awareness of the various challenges and issues they face and ensuring they are integrated within the society, in addition to highlighting the importance of genetic studies with.”
His Excellency also stressed the significance for people of determination of this new genetic research project in cooperation with ICLDC and its partner, the University of Oxford in the UK. He explained the team had identified the samples for the study after careful review of the files of potential participants, who include people of determination, their parents and siblings, and who have already been approached and given consent to provide blood samples.
ICLDC's Head of Research, Her Excellency Professor Maha Taysir Barakat, former Director-General of the Health Authority Abu Dhabi, explained the importance of the study, saying: “We believe these types of projects will enhance the position of the UAE as a leader in rare genetic research.
“The project covered under the MOU will create awareness about genetic research overall and its importance in contributing to various aspects of clinical management, including drug discovery and novel treatments for specific genetic disorders and other more common diseases prevalent in the UAE.”