Emerging data shows that healthcare providers in the UAE are making inroads into precision medicine, a new methodology which is moving healthcare from a ‘one size fits all’ to a targeted and personalised approach.

In the field of genetics, the rise of precision medicine in the MENA region, which reportedly has a high predominance of faulty genes largely due to consanguineous marriages, may benefit significantly from a precise crucial allele reference genome.

“Personalised medicine is certainly transforming the healthcare ecosystem for the better, driven by digitalisation and a rapidly rising corpus of knowledge that is redefining how we perceive the origins and development of fatal diseases,” said Dr. Maryam Matar, Founder and Chairperson, UAE Genetic Diseases Association at the Precision Medicine Exhibition and Summit held in May in Dubai this year.

Global data and insights firm Netscribes projects the Middle East and Africa precision medicine market to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 9.96 per cent to a revenue worth of $2.51 billion by 2023.

David Stradling, Event Director of the summit said that the application of digital technologies, including AI, big data, and machine learning, is driving precision medicine into the vanguard of new age healthcare which tailors to individual needs, can improve outcomes and patient experiences.

Personalised solutions are gaining traction in genomics and targeted cancer therapies, regenerative medicine, and now include a wide range of diagnostics and treatments for both rare and common diseases.

“GCC healthcare providers have already moved into the PM field, which is expected to grow by 11 per cent annually to 2026 to be worth US$142 billion globally with Dubai’s Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU) and the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Saudi Arabia having established biomedical and genomics research centres and others expected to follow,” he said.

The UAE is among few countries in the MENA region which is adopting modern and innovative healthcare approaches to combat such issues. The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH) recently launched the first Personalised Precision Medicine Programme for oncology in the region.

On November 8, Illumina, a firm specialising DNA sequencing and array-based technologies launched its new, state-of-the-art solutions centre in Dubai. “With the growing demand for genomic testing in healthcare systems, the Illumina Solutions Centere will help deliver accurate and actionable reports to clinicians and their patients,” said Susan Tousi, chief commercial officer of Illumina.

Asma Ali Zain is an independent journalist and a regular contributor at Omnia Health.

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