Saudi launches ambitious gene mapping project
Glasgow (Scotland), December 10, 2013
Saudi-based The King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) has joined hands with Life Technologies Corporation for a national research project to study the genetic basis of all diseases in the Kingdom and throughout the Middle East.
Life Technologies is a global biotechnology company that is committed to providing the most innovative products and services to leading customers in the fields of scientific research, genetic analysis and applied sciences.
With a presence in more than 180 countries, the company's portfolio of 50,000 end-to-end solutions is secured by more than 5,000 patents and licenses that span the entire biological spectrum.
"The Saudi Human Genome Program" will use these findings to offer the ultimate personal care in Saudi Arabia, said KACST, the national funding agency.
Through a network of an initial 10 genome centers across Saudi Arabia, the ambitious program using the Ion Proton DNA sequencer, will focus on sequencing 100,000 human genomes over the next five years to study both normal and disease-associated genes specific to the Saudi population, with five further genome centers to be created in the future.
This genomic variant data will be fully analyzed and used to create a Saudi-specific database that will provide the basis for future development of personalized medicine in the Kingdom and represents the most comprehensive effort to identify the disease-causing genes for the population of a country and Arab people.
"King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology is committed to the development of R&D programs of excellence in all scientific disciplines," stated its president Dr Mohammed Bin Ibrahim Al Suwayl.
"We have clear strategy and policy of the importance of science to a knowledge-based society and we believe the Saudi Human Genome Program will help shape the understanding of health and disease and usher in an era of personalized medicine in the Kingdom and we are grateful for the investment and vision of the Saudi leadership," he added.
Prince Dr Turki bin Saud Al Saud, KACST vice president for Research Institutes said the Saudi Human Genome Program will position the Kingdom at the forefront of personalized medicine and will empower its citizens to help them make informed decisions for their health plans.
"We hope other global academic institutions will use the impressive facilities KACST is launching in the near future," he remarked.
The sequencing will be performed using Life Technologies' semiconductor-based Ion Proton DNA sequencer. The instruments will be deployed in the network of 15 genome centers at various sites across the Kingdom.
Gregory T. Lucier, the chairman and CEO of Life Technologies, said this was a program of exceptional scale enabled by the Ion Proton.
"It demonstrates KACST's vision to position the Kingdom as a world leader in genetic research through its genome centers to deliver the ultimate in personalized medicine. We expect the Saudi Human Genome Program will provide a model which many countries will follow," he added.
"Each center is designed and equipped by Life Technologies' Enterprise Genomics Services team which will further accelerate the project by providing end-to-end solutions and services for operations and informatics," explained Gregory.
"This wealth of information, provided with the full consent of participants, will also enable clinicians in the future to offer premarital and prenatal screening for rare diseases, which will facilitate preventive medicine and decrease the emotional, social and economic burden of rare birth defects," he noted.
"The data will also enable worldwide population studies to understand and compare population-specific influences leading to normal and harmful variants, common and rare mutations.," he added
Dr Prabhu Sampath, the CEO of Integrated Gulf Biosystems (IGB), the Middle East distributor of Life Technologies, said: "We are privileged to have played a pivotal role in bringing this disruptive technology in genome sequencing from Life Technologies to KACST and the impact of this project will be far reaching and will lead to the introduction of new techniques and tools, including precision medicine to both patients and the clinicians treating them."-TradeArabia News Service