PrecisionMed International Magazine January 2024 Edition

Page 1

R E D E F I N I N G H E A LT H C A R E I N T H E G C C & M E N A R E G I O N

PREVIEW: PMES 24 Event returns to the UAE in May and also debuts in KSA this year

EMERGE 2050 Why healthcare needs the star tup community

Introducing Precision GenQuest A brand-new competition for young researchers comes to PMES

Precision Perspectives Insights from the UAE, KSA, Egypt, and more

THE PRECISION MEDICINE PIONEER How Dr. Fa tim a A l K a abi is a d y n amic f or c e sh aping the f u tur e o f he al thc ar e in the UA E J A N U A R Y 202 4

What you’re missing matters

Decipher rare and undiagnosed disorders • More diagnostic potential from genomic and epigenomic variants • Critical answers in hours, not weeks or months • One solution with flexibility and automation Find out more

Anything • Anyone • Anywhere visit •

follow • @nanopore

Oxford Nanopore Technologies and the Wheel icon are registered trademarks of Oxford Nanopore Technologies plc in various countries. © Oxford Nanopore Technologies plc. All rights reserved. Oxford Nanopore Technologies products are not intended for use for health assessment or to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure, or prevent any disease or condition.


PrecisionMed Exhibition & Summit (PMES) and EMERGE 2050 Founder & Managing Director David Stradling

We’re here to work together towards more personalised and preventative approaches to healthcare... The New Year tends to mark a period of renewed energy and personal goal-setting. As the clock strikes midnight on 31 December, billions around the world engage in self-reflection, making quiet resolutions focused on selfimprovement, with personal wellbeing often at the forefront. “Live long and strong” succinctly captures the essence of the longevity movement, emphasising the pivotal roles of diet and exercise in achieving this ambition. However, we’re slowly beginning to realise just how much more can contribute to health and wellness, and that’s through more tailored and personalised approaches. Few sectors exemplify the Fourth Industrial Revolution as distinctly as precision medicine. This field provides invaluable insights into our individual makeup, using genetics as a predictive tool for future wellbeing. With precision medicine, individuals can identify their own biomarkers and assess disease risks, enabling them to take proactive measures based on this information. This approach holds the promise of creating more empowered populations, where efforts in disease prevention align with those in cure. Clinicians now play a dual role, predicting risks and educating patients on personalised disease avoidance strategies, alongside administering treatments. With PrecisionMed International Magazine, we are thrilled to play a vital role in providing educational, business, and networking platforms for our professional stakeholders in the MENA region. Through this publication – along with our PrecisionMed Expo & Summit (PMES) events series in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, our goal is to support industry professionals in genomics, genomebased healthcare, and the entire spectrum of personalised medicine. We strive to equip our community with the latest knowledge, tools,

and support networks necessary to reduce disease and enhance the lives of patients. The role of emerging technologies cannot be overlooked either as we navigate the evolving landscape of healthcare, thus it is imperative to recognise the dynamic intersection of technology and wellbeing. The rise of innovative solutions and services continues to redefi ne the role of healthcare practitioners. This is where EMERGE 2050 shines. Colocated with PMES, EMERGE 2050 is the platform for investors and innovators to connect, featuring TED-style presentations for investors and other stakeholders interested in medtech, healthtech, and biotech. The event also features The Nest, a dedicated hub for startups to showcase their latest solutions. In the years to come, the amalgamation of scientific advancements and individual resolve holds the potential to not only inform New Year’s resolutions but also to fortify them with tangible evidence, transforming aspirations into sustainable lifestyle changes. Looking ahead to the future, as healthcare technologies and services become more accessible, practitioners evolving into facilitators of disease prevention may strengthen individual resolutions with scientific evidence and roadmaps. We look forward to meeting once again in the UAE this May, followed by Saudi Arabia later on in the year, to exchange ideas and create solutions to improve healthcare and wellbeing for all. See you then. David Stradling Founder &Managing Director PrecisionMed Exhibition & Summit (PMES) EMERGE 2050

Event Director Natasha Hall-Mentink Commercial Director Bilal Saymeh Conference Manager Madre Wilson Marketing Manager Janice Menezes Marketing Manager Shafvan Beary Organised by Smart Planet Media Limited Exhibitions & Conferences

PrecisionMed International Magazine Managing Editor Rachel McArthur Creative Director Ben White Cover Photography Jonathan Gibbons Editorial Contributors Ahmed El Sherif, Freya Hamid, Karim Mansour All images © iStock /Getty Images unless supplied by PrecisionMed International Magazine, PMES and EMERGE 2050 exhibitors, partners, interviewees and similar. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



CONTENTS 16 14 6.

ICYMI... Recent developments in precision medicine in the UAE and beyond




With space selling fast, preparations are already well underway for the upcoming third UAE edition of the PrecisionMed Exhibition & Summit (PMES)


PRECISION GENQUEST A brand-new competition where insights and innovation unite



THE PMES 24 WISHLIST Members of the conference’s scientific committee reveal what they’re looking for this year




DUBAI IN FOCUS How the emirate is unlocking the power of data to enhance future healthcare


KSA IN FOCUS How Saudi Arabia is surging ahead in genomic medicine

PRECISION PERSPECTIVES Exploring next-gen precision medicine With M Walid Qoronfleh


COVER STORY Fatima Al Kaabi Meet the healthcare leader pioneering precision medicine and transforming the field in the UAE



ABU DHABI IN FOCUS Why the UAE capital is a preferred hub for innovative healthcare With M Walid Qoronfleh


TECH SPOTLIGHT A deep dive into solutions by companies including Lifespin, MGI, GenomeArc, MyEngene and more


PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024




(IN CASE YOU MISSED IT) A roundup of the latest announcements relating to precision medicine in the UAE and beyond.

P U R E H E A LT H AC QU IR E S L E A D IN G T EC H C O M PA N Y… A N D A N N OU NCE S N E W L E A DE R S H IP In November 2023, PureHealth, the largest healthcare platform in the Middle East, announced its acquisition of 100% of PureCS, a leading cloud and technology services provider specialising in cybersecurity, AI information systems, complete end-to-end IT, and digital services. PureCS achieved a significant milestone with Riayati, the UAE’s national unified medical records platform and the country’s largest digital health project. Consolidating over 17 million electronic medical records, Riayati is poised to transform patient care, record access, and healthcare eff iciency. Beyond Riayati, PureCS has successfully executed various local and federal projects, specialising in system integrations, data centre solutions, cybersecurity, and digital consumer applications. Farhan Malik, Managing Director at PureHealth, highlighted: “We recently launched Pura, the region’s first AI-backed healthcare companion app, and PureNet,

a dedicated healthcare cloud providing a digital healthas-a-service platform built on advanced cloud computing technologies. We will capitalise further by developing both initiatives with the cloud engineering expertise that PureCS off ers. Our commitment to leveraging technology and advanced AI-based solutions aligns with our mission to ensure the sector’s robustness and preparedness for the future.” In December, PureHealth Holding appointed Shaista Asif as its Group CEO. During her tenure as co-founder and Group COO at PureHealth, Asif oversaw multiple successful acquisitions, including Abu Dhabi Health Services Co (SEHA), The National Rehabilitation Center (NRC), and the National Health Insurance Co. (Daman). Asif also led the landmark acquisition of Circle Health Group – the first-ofits-kind healthcare acquisition by a UAE-based group in the UK – in a deal worth $1.2 billion.

A D S C C T E A M S U P W I T H K YO T O U N I V E R S I T Y T O P I O N E E R IN NOVAT I V E D I A BE T E S T R E AT M E N T S Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center (ADSCC) announced a groundbreaking joint research agreement with Kyoto University and its Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA), along with Rege Nephro, a Japanbased biotech company specialising in R&D and the production of renal disease therapeutics. This collaboration is poised to revolutionise diabetes care by developing an innovative treatment using pancreatic beta cells derived from human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells). To facilitate this joint research, an ADSCC laboratory has been established at Kyoto University in Japan. The research will reportedly focus on enhancing therapeutic eff icacy through genetic modifications of iPS cell-derived pancreatic beta cells, providing cell therapy options for type 1 diabetes patients. Additionally, the collaboration will involve screening and testing potential drugs for type 2 diabetes to develop novel approaches for managing the condition. “This partnership serves as an ideal example of international cooperation, where our combined eff orts propel us closer to achieving excellence in diabetes care for our respective populations and beyond,” said ADSCC CEO and adjunct professor at UAE University, Prof. Dr. Yendry Ventura.


PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024




Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), and United Al-Saqer Group recently signed a 10year research endowment agreement aimed at advancing education, knowledge, and innovation in digital health. The funds contributed by the Group will be used to establish and sustain health research projects at MBZUAI under the name of H.E. Sheikh Mohamed bin Butti Al Hamed. Healthcare has been a key focus area for MBZUAI, with H.E. Sheikh Abdulla Al Hamed, Member of United Al-Saqer Group’s Board of Directors, stating: “The UAE is committed to innovation in healthcare to improve the lives of nationals and residents, and to propel the nation forward as a global leader in the sector while aligning with the healthcare aims of [the] Abu Dhabi 2030 Economic Vision. Through this research endowment agreement, United Al-Saqer Group and MBZUAI will ensure that the UAE remains at the cutting edge of AI innovation across the healthcare ecosystem.”

Cleveland Clinic has joined forces with institutes around the world to form the AI Alliance, an international community of researchers, developers and leaders aiming to develop and achieve safe and responsible AI. Comprising orgs working across AI education, research, development and deployment, and governance, the AI Alliance was launched by IBM and Meta with founding members including Cleveland, Dartmouth University, Dell Technologies, Imperial College London, Oracle, University of Tokyo, and Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI). “AI capabilities are now constantly growing and improving, and it is critical that organisations from diverse fields come together to help advance AI discoveries and technologies, while also addressing concerns around security and safety,” said Dr. Tom Mihaljevic, CEO and President of Cleveland Clinic. Visit for more.

YO U R N E X T T R U S T E D PA R T N E R Randox Biosciences is dedicated to advancing the future of personalised medicine approaches and assist Pharma, Biotechs and CROs to move away from a “One treatment fits all” approach. Randox have key expertise in all elements of CDx and diagnostic development and are the UK’s 1st commercial partner of Olink® PEA technology.

One of the UKs trusted commercial providers of Olink® technology for large-scale proteomic testing

World leading primary manufacturer of high-quality antibodies, proteins and conjugates

Dedicated custom unit for developing and manufacturing custom assay solutions

Unrivalled expertise in diagnostic and CDx assay development from early phase trials right through to drug launch

End-to-end genomics solution, inclusive of in-house bioinformaticians and data analysts

World class Omic testing services providing better insight to disease and advance the development of new treatments

OUR SERVICES Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS)



Olink® Service Provider

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



Preview: PMES UAE 24 With space selling fast, preparations are already well underway for the upcoming third UAE edition of the PrecisionMed Exhibition & Summit (PMES). Taking place 8-10 May 2024 at the Dubai World Trade Center, PMES UAE 24 is the must-attend event for organisations showcasing the latest solutions and innovations in the world of personalised healthcare and biotherapeutics. PrecisionMed International caught up with conference Founder and MD, David Stradling to fi nd out more.

Before we look ahead, what were your own personal highlights of PMES UAE 23? In 2023, our event experienced significant growth, doubling in attendance and physical size compared to its fi rst year. We featured top influential experts and speakers from around the region and globally, while the programme also highlighted Saba Samir Flaihan Hamasha, a young patient introduced by the UAE Rare Disease Society, who made an incredible presentation on her condition and hopes for precision medicine. PMES serves as a platform for knowledge and clinical adoption of technologies in personalised healthcare,

and as organisers, we are motivated by the positive impact our event has on healthcare in the MENA region, extending to the patient community.

PMES returns in May 2024 for its third UAE edition. What are the goals and objectives of the upcoming conference? The show maintains its momentum with both new and reinforced elements. Highlights include a greater focus on precision therapeutics, the Precision GenQuest competition showcasing fresh research from aspiring young professionals, and a heightened focus on innovation and investment, facilitated by our established co-located platform, EMERGE 2050. Returning visitors will witness consistent year-on-year growth, as we persist in integrating precision and personalised medicine into the broader healthcare system, advancing the region’s position as a leading precision medicine ecosystem.

What specific themes or topics, if any, will the conference focus on? This year’s conference will revolve around four main themes: 1. Healthy Populations: Emphasising screening at scale, newborn/pre-born screening programmes, population genomics, and government legislation. 2. Lifestyle Intervention and Disease Prevention (Longevity): Exploring realworld applications of how “prevention is the new cure”. Which nations excel in longevity, and how can biotherapeutics contribute to prevention? Addressing how insurers handle the growing demand for lifestyle changes. 3. Clinical Genomics: Highlighting the application of scientific research in the clinical setting. Examining how genomics is reshaping treatment plans and its role in rare diseases and cancers. 4. Precision and AI: Delving into the prominent role of artificial intelligence in healthcare. Exploring AI’s contributions to precision medicine, ethical considerations, and regulatory frameworks. These themes comprehensively cover the entire patient journey, spanning national healthcare systems, prevention, necessary treatment, and the evolving role of technology in healthcare. The focus remains on the adoption of precision-based care in hospital settings for the ultimate benefit of patients.

And there are additional new elements, right? This year, we’re excited to welcome the pharma sector, completing our coverage of all essential areas in healthcare to enhance patient outcomes. Then there’s


PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


Precision GenQuest, as mentioned, with entries to be evaluated by the PMES Scientific Committee. Meanwhile, EMERGE 2050, which focuses on startup investment, will be presented as its own show. Dedicated to healthtech, medtech, and biotech innovations shaping the future of healthcare, EMERGE 2050 will feature an exhibition called The Nest. Here, startups and innovators can present their solutions to potential investors, healthcare providers, insurers, and private entities to generate interest in adopting their technologies in the GCC.

PMES always ensures a diverse and comprehensive programme. What are you looking for from speakers this year? One of the main priorities of PMES is the clinical adoption of precision medicine. We are looking to run a rich programme of unique and proven concepts, studies, and applications that will inspire delegates to continue bringing precision medicine to the patient’s bedside.

How do you ensure a balance between academia, industry, and healthcare practitioners in conference collaborations? This is what sets PMES apart. Our focus isn’t solely on academia, but on the real-world application of knowledge, technology, and therapeutics. We connect the dots. The solutions for precision and personalised healthcare are here, and they represent the future. All our speakers are briefed on the event’s goals, tailoring presentations for clinicians and laboratory leaders seeking to understand the implications for their work. Our forums are interconnected: the Main Stage is highly educational, the Open Technology Forum is practical and hands-on, and EMERGE 2050 serves as a breeding ground for solutions that may

one day go mainstream. This setting attracts all industry stakeholders, including clinicians, laboratory technicians, pathologists, researchers, regulators, pharma and biopharma leaders, innovators, investors, insurers, media, and more.

How are you facilitating networking opportunities and interactions among attendees? PMES is a content and network-driven event featuring a CME-accredited main stage programme, technology forum, and innovation programme. The comprehensive two-day programme will host up to 120 speakers. The event incorporates an AI-based networking platform through a pre-event app, enabling attendees to schedule meetings in advance. This is crucial for maximising networking opportunities. We are thrilled about the poster stand programme, recognising and rewarding young aspiring knowledge and thought leaders globally. Many will be accompanied by their university mentors or professors, adding an exciting dynamic to the event.

How do you envision PMES contributing to the advancement of precision medicine? Precision medicine represents healthcare’s role in the fourth industrial revolution. However, many clinicians remain unaware of the available opportunities. The focus remains predominantly on diagnostics and

treatments, with little attention to prevention. Our goal is to educate, fostering new knowledge and connections that benefit patient communities. PMES serves as a catalyst for change, especially in the MENA region, where the commitment to precision medicine is evident, particularly in the GCC. Looking ahead, we envision PMES contributing to the global precision medicine ecosystem in the long term.

And finally, as an individual passionate about the future of healthcare… If you could change one thing in healthcare overnight, what would it be and why? Race inequalities and ethnic disparities persist as significant challenges in healthcare. Historically, Big Pharma therapeutics have predominantly undergone testing on white European populations, resulting in approved drugs primarily benefiting those with a similar genetic makeup. It’s clear that a “onesize-fits-all” approach is inadequate. Advancements in genetic understanding and the implementation of personalised healthcare offer an opportunity to reconsider the development and administration of treatments. By fostering collaboration between government and industry, we can ensure that everyone reaps the benefits of this new era in medicine and patient care. To exhibit, present, or attend PMES UAE 24, visit for more information.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



Precision GenQuest A brand-new competition where insights and innovation unite PrecisionMed Exhibition & Summit (PMES) this year launches a brand-new competition dedicated to postgraduate students.

aunching during PMES UAE 24, the Precision GenQuest competition is dedicated to PhD students, inviting them to present their fi ndings in a visually compelling manner to a highly targeted audience of scientists, researchers, and visionaries. According to event organiser, Smart Planet Media – Exhibitions & Conferences, the vision is to establish a platform that will accelerate careers and underscore the event’s commitment to progressing in personalised healthcare. Precision GenQuest is to stand as a testament to the spirit of academic inquiry and discovery, embodying core values of collaboration, knowledge sharing, and intellectual advancement. With a diverse host of scientific disciplines represented, participants will be able to engage with peers from various fields, fostering interdisciplinary dialogue and cross-pollination of ideas. The competition will reflect the themes of this year’s PMES UAE 24 Main Stage, which are: Healthy Populations; Lifestyle Intervention and Disease Prevention; Clinical Genomics, and AI in Precision Medicine. The event’s panel of judges, composed of leading


experts and luminaries within the scientific community, will evaluate the submissions based on criteria such as originality, clarity of presentation, scientific merit, and potential impact within the relevant field. Participants can expect invaluable insights and feedback from the evaluators, enriching their academic journey and contributing to the overall advancement of scientific knowledge. Prof. Dr. George Patrinos, member of the PMES Scientific Committee and ambassador of the Lifestyle Intervention and Disease Prevention theme said he expects contributions related to available genetic tests for health and disease management and prevention. This includes, but is not limited to, personalised therapeutics, individualised diets, ethics for lifestyle genomics, economic evaluation for genome-guided genomic interventions, etc.

SCIENCE’s FUTURE LEADERS Precision GenQuest is not only a platform for showcasing research excellence, but also an avenue for nurturing the next generation of scientific leaders. Entries are welcomed from aspiring young researchers and students, providing them

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

with the opportunity to gain recognition and exposure for their contributions to the scientific landscape. A number of awards are also on offer, further incentivising participants to strive for excellence and distinction in their scientific endeavours. Elaborating on the importance of the competition, Natasha Mentink, Event Director, tells us: “Hundreds of submissions are to be vetted from around the world, and these will go through a genuine process of assessment. “Only the very best in each category will be featured in the Precision GenQuest hub for attendees to explore. The fi nalists will have the chance to present their research on the third day of the conference on the Main Stage.” She points out that PhD research offers a unique period in a person’s life when they have the time and resources to operate freely on projects with no quantifiable outcomes. This is a luxury they may struggle to match during a working lifetime, she adds. “The value of such research should not be understated. It is essential to the success of the PhD student and holds potential for economic returns. Universities place importance on student projects for this exact purpose,” she says. All passionate scientists, researchers, and scholars are encouraged to partake in what Mentink says will be an intellectually stimulating and enriching experience. The Precision GenQuest competition promises to be a convergence of ingenuity, curiosity, and scholarly rigour, potentially contributing to the drive towards new frontiers of scientific discovery and understanding. “Together, we look forward to illuminating the path forward for the advancement of science, and inspiring future generations to continue pushing the boundaries of human understanding,” Mentik concludes. To find out more about Precision GenQuest, visit


The PMES 24 wishlist As the PrecisionMed Exhibition & Summit (PMES) returns for its third UAE edition this May, PrecisionMed International caught up with some members of the conference’s scientific committee to find out just what they’re looking forward to this year.

DR. MIN S PARK Chief Science Off icer & Director of Genomic Medicine, and Senior S&T Advisor, Healthcare Sanimed International Lab and Management (UAE) – an International Holding Company

As head of the scientifi c community for the conference, what would you like to see more of – or new additions – to PMES 24 this May? I want to see the continued dialogue, spirit, and strong desire to build a strong collaborative community of genomic medicine, rare diseases, precision medicine, and healthcare practitioners. Creating a culture of open collaboration among university researchers, hospitals, regulatory agents, and patient advocacy groups is essential to devising treatment options in a timely and at a reasonable cost. What are your healthcare predictions in precision medicine for 2024? A huge growth in applying machine

learning (ML) algorithms and other artifi cial intelligence (AI) tools in genomic medicine and precision medicine. Complex and vast datasets are required to better understand any disease through a clear interpretation of multidimensional data. This requires diverse ML algorithms for disease diagnosis and drug discovery and for devising personalised and precise treatment options.

us welcome and celebrate the successful FDA approval and commercial launching of CRISPR gene therapies for sickle cell anaemia, we feel pain that only a limited number of patients will have access to this treatment, which costs $1.5 million to $2 million. If we take this desire to another level, it is absolutely necessary to create a platform or system If you had the power to transform or that can fi nd treatment solutions with anything in the sector, what would it be speed and scale. If we want to take care and why? of 8 billion healthy and ill people through I am happy to say that some of us are personalised precision options, we must already building a platform to diagnose diseases and devise treatment options that build a revolutionary approach. My mantra is “precision medicine for all”. are aff ordable and accessible. While all of

DR. SHAIKHA AL MAZROUEI Researcher, Biotechnology Research Center (BRC), TII Abu Dhabi Chairman, UAE Stem Cell Society

As someone who was heavily involved in PMES last year, what are you looking forward to this time around? Having such a scientifi c and contentfocused event in the UAE aligns with our country’s healthcare strategy, aiming for a healthier nation through the provision of high-quality healthcare services and personalised medicine. This event facilitates world-class researchers to gather in Dubai to discuss advanced genomics and precision medicine technologies, share the latest publications


and fi ndings, and attract cutting-edge technologies, pharmaceutical, and biotech industries to the region. This positions the UAE as a hub for genomic medicine and personalised healthcare. Why is precision medicine just so important to the UAE? With visionary leadership and strategic planning aimed at promoting a longer and healthier life for the UAE, the importance of hosting PMES in the country becomes evident. The country has made considerable eff orts to enhance health services and

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

infrastructure, synergising healthcare, AI, education, research and development, and bioindustry. This comprehensive approach, including stringent regulations, ensures excellence in services delivered to the UAE. I believe hosting such an event is pivotal in highlighting the UAE’s endeavours to advance healthcare services and the biopharma industry in the region.




Pharmacy Director, Head of Personalized Medication Management Unit Children Cancer Hospital Egypt 57357

Genomics & Molecular Biotech Sr Director - Technology Innovation Institute (TII), Abu Dhabi

Any advice for our upcoming PMES 24 conference speakers? I want to convey a message to this year’s presenters that their contributions are crucial in advancing the field. The following tips can help you shine on the PMES stage:

Get ready, 2024’s AI and wearable duo is about to transform precision medicine! Expect whispers of personalised insights, early health warnings, custom treatment plans, and groundbreaking research. This is just the beginning, and the future of AI and wearables in healthcare is a thrilling adventure waiting to unfold.

What are you looking forward to at PMES 24? Precision medicine is rapidly advancing in this region; staying abreast of these developments is essential for the meeting’s success.

If you had the power to transform anything in the sector, what would it be? Forgetting “one-size-fi tsall” medicine! Imagine a global network where your genes, your data, and your AI pal team up to create a personalised health plan just for you.

From a scientifi c perspective, staying informed on progress in the country and regulatory developments is crucial. I plan to follow up on these aspects.

Showcase patient impact (through real-world examples, case studies, and impactful results), push the envelope (highlight cuttingedge advancements in genomics, AI, and big data), bridge the gap (make your research translation-ready), and engage and inspire (speak clearly, share stories, and use visuals wisely). Encourage questions and discussions! Be part of the solution, not just the science. What are you excited about in healthcare in 2024?

This isn’t just a dream. It’s a health revolution for everyone. Let’s hack health together!


This year, we plan to include a dedicated session for young investigators to present their fi ndings. Our goal is to enhance genomics education for healthcre professionals and raise awareness among the general public. It’s a challenging task, but we’re making progress.

What topics would you like to see more of? The importance of integrating precision medicine with wellness and ageing; emphasising the link between longevity, wellness,

Any other tips for content? At TII, we strongly advocate for multiomics, integrating genomics, epigenomics, microbiome, metabolomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics. The current accessibility and cost of technology make it an opportune moment. Anticipating discussions on multiomics projects at this conference will signify the evolution of precision medicine beyond genomics.


Professor of Pharmacogenomics & Pharmaceutical Biotechnology University of Patras, Erasmus University Rotterdam, and UAE University

What are you looking forward to at PMES 24? I’m interested in exploring how genomics can be integrated into pharmaceutical development, genetic counselling, and addressing both rare and region-specifi c prevalent diseases. These topics are of great interest to scientists in the GCC region.

Connecting with industry peers and learning about companies in precision medicine is valuable. I expect newer technologies to be showcased at PMES 24.

and precision medicine at this conference is crucial. This approach shifts the focus from patients to promoting health in individuals, and regulations for healthy individuals are generally more fl exible than those for patients. I see room for innovations in longevity and wellness before they transition into precision medicine.

Senior Scientist & Associate Professor Qatar Biomedical Research Institute

What would you change in healthcare if you could? I wish for better control to scrutinise scientifi cally questionable practices, like personalised diets based on DNA, which is absurd. Predicting athletic performance or ethnological background through genetics is equally absurd.

You chaired sessions at PMES last year… Any ideas for PMES 24? Emerging technologies are at the forefront of many scientifi c breakthroughs. I believe it would be of great value to showcase how state-of-the-art technologies and platforms can support investigators in their research. Perhaps in doing so we could inspire novel ideas and collaborations.

If I could change something in the fi eld, I’d advocate for a faster implementation pace, but the crucial aspect is ensuring patients aren’t misled by such tests. If they lose faith in these results, they might doubt legitimate ones. We must distinguish between personalised therapy and personalised diets to avoid confusion.

What are your “precision predictions” for 2024? I think that some of the trends that we have seen emerge in 2023 will likely mature and enter the clinic. For instance, the FDA approved fi ve gene therapies for rare genetic diseases in 2023 and more will likely follow in 2024. However, the drawback of those therapies

is the very high cost so I would anticipate that regulatory agencies will need to tackle this bottleneck in 2024. If you had the power to change anything in the sector, what would it be? A major challenge I have encountered myself during my research career is the lack of opportunities to conduct pilot studies to obtain preliminary data and drive ongoing research. Many of us have ideas that are not ready for a full grant application; however, it might help us to design and guide our future research. It would be great if there could be more initiative to support small pilot studies. I think this might be of even more importance in the MENA.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



Meet the team: The personalities who make PMES happen PrecisionMed International brings you the talented individuals from Smart Planet Media whose dedication and passion are set to bring the upcoming editions of PMES to life. Spoiler alert… plenty of chocolate is involved. 1. DAVID STRADLING Founder & Managing Director What I’m looking forward to during PMES 24 in the UAE and KSA: I am looking for verbal testimonials from our stakeholders and attendees that, once again, the event has moved forward. I want people to nod their heads approvingly and say what a great event it is and how it is servicing the needs of this market segment. Of course, I am also open to positive criticism, which is the means by which we learn and improve. Three days of busy aisles and conferences and thousands of productive meetings are the goal. This will give us the momentum to keep growing, with our eff orts ultimately impacting the patient community.

Favourite snack during crunch time: KitKats! Something I can’t do without at work: Pen and notebook. My top three essentials during a conference: Pen and paper, a nice hot beverage to sip on, and probably a snack!

3. BILAL SAYMEH Commercial Director What I’m looking forward to during PMES 24 in the UAE and KSA: Achieving our ambitious targets and delivering a highquality event for our exhibitors, visitors, and sponsors.

The strangest item in my desk drawer is: A thimble. It isn’t mine. I think the previous tenant in our off ice was a seamstress.

The strangest item in my desk drawer is: Nothing strange, but at least three types of dark chocolate.

Favourite snack during crunch time: A chicken schnitzel [Editor’s note: We’re amused that David considers a chicken schnitzel a snack… after much deliberation, he then settled on a pain au chocolat].

Favourite snack during crunch time: Blueberries.

Something I can’t do without at work: Stress ball.

My top three essentials during a conference: Business cards, a notebook, and a bottle of water.

My top three essentials during a conference: Coff ee, phone and lots of happy faces.

Something I can’t do without at work: Laptop and mobile phone.

4. MADRE WILSON Conference Manager

2. NATASHA HALL-MENTINK Event Director What I’m looking forward to during PMES 24 in the UAE and KSA: To meet all of our ambitious targets, of course! More specifi cally, steady growth progression similar to the previous two years, high attendance, and a scientifi c conference covering the latest, never-before-seen research to turn heads. The strangest item in my desk drawer is: It’s fairly organised... If anything, it’s the month’s supply of Japanese KitKats in fi ve diff erent fl avours.

What I’m looking forward to during PMES 24 in the UAE and KSA: Being able to connect people through knowledge that will drive precision medicine in the Middle East for a healthier population. The strangest item in my desk drawer is: Robinsons’ Real Fruit squash travel-sized pouch… For a little fun when water is not enough.

My top three essentials during a conference: COFFEE, someone who brings me coff ee, and my phone… to call for more coff ee? On a serious note, my crown (headphones), my throne (the desk where I work from), and my sceptre (phone).

5. JANICE MENEZES Marketing Manager What I’m looking forward to during PMES 24 in the UAE and KSA: Meeting people who are making a diff erence in the world with healthcare innovation. The strangest item in my desk drawer is: A shower cap! Don’t ask haha Favourite snack during crunch time: Bananas! Something I can’t do without at work: Lip balm My top three essentials during a conference: Sneakers, coff ee, and a charger!

6. SHAFVAN BEARY Digital Marketing Lead What I’m looking forward to during PMES 24 in the UAE and KSA: Record-breaking visitor turnout and happy exhibitors. The strangest item in my desk drawer is: A weighing scale. Favourite snack during crunch time: Chocolate! Something I can’t do without at work: Laptop. My top three essentials during a conference: List of key points to be discussed, notebook, and pen.

Favourite snack during crunch time: Cookies! Something I can’t do without at work: My laptop.

To exhibit at, present on stage, or attend PMES UAE 24, visit 14

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024




4 6 1


PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



FATIMA AL KAABI: PIONEERING PRECISION MEDICINE AND TRANSFORMING HEALTHCARE IN THE UAE Part of the Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center (ADSCC), Dr. Fatima Al Kaabi is one of the dynamic forces shaping the future of healthcare in the United Arab Emirates. As the Executive Director of the centre’s Abu Dhabi Bone Marrow Transplant (ADBMT) programme and Consultant Haematologist, Dr. Al Kaabi’s remarkable track record showcases her commitment to cuttingedge therapies, from groundbreaking bone marrow transplants to leading transformative initiatives. In December 2023, she was also appointed by the UAE Cabinet as the Director General of the newly established Emirates Drug Establishment (EDE). BY R ACHEL MCARTHUR & AHMED EL SHERIF


PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



or those who work closely with her, Dr. Fatima Al Kaabi is “someone who makes things happen,” and her impressive track record certainly substantiates this claim, establishing her as a driving force in healthcare innovation within the region. In the dynamic landscape of medical advancements in the UAE, Dr. Al Kaabi stands out as a trailblazer, currently making significant contributions through her pivotal roles at the Emirates Drug Establishment, the Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center (ADSCC) and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS). As Executive Director of the Abu Dhabi Bone Marrow Transplant (AD-BMT) programme and Consultant Haematologist, she leads the charge in pioneering medical solutions and transformative initiatives at the ADSCC. In recent months, the medical practitioner was also appointed DirectorGeneral for the Emirates Drug Establishment, which aims to strengthen the country’s position as a global hub for pharmaceutical and medical industries, promoting research and development in the sector. Focusing on precision medicine, Dr. Al Kaabi’s remarkable career so far is characterised by a commitment to advancing healthcare through cutting-edge therapies, particularly in the field of stem cell and cellular therapy. She has played a pivotal role in revolutionising treatments for various conditions, including leukaemia, lymphomas, thalassemia, and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Dr. Al Kaabi’s workplace has also garnered its fair share of attention, and with good reason. In 2020, the ADSCC announced the fi rst-ever successful bone marrow transplant in the UAE, performed on a patient with multiple myeloma. Although cancer is the third-highest cause of death in the country, citizens and residents have often sought treatment abroad for cell therapy and regenerative medicine. The successful transplant marked a milestone advancement for blood cancer patients in the UAE, allowing them to access treatment closer to home. And this was just the beginning. Working alongside ADSCC’s Chief Executive Officer, Prof. Dr. Yendry Ventura, the team is working hard to push the boundaries of medical science. The centre is fast establishing its reputation as a hub for groundbreaking research and advancements, positioning itself as a frontrunner in the realm of precision medicine in the UAE.

PrecisionMed International recently sat with Dr. Al Kaabi to fi nd out more about upcoming developments at the ADSCC and the future of precision medicine in the Emirates and wider region.

For those who might be unfamiliar with ADSCC, could you briefly tell us about the centre’s journey so far? Moreover, how would you prefer to personally describe your role? The ADSCC was established in 2019 with a vision inspired by the UAE leadership to be at the forefront of regenerative medicine and cellular therapy. Our goal is to advance stem cell applications in treating diseases such as blood cancers, hereditary blood disorders, and various genetic and rare conditions. The centre operates on three pillars: unity, generosity, and sustainability. Unity emphasises the importance of global partnerships to elevate this branch of science collectively. Generosity involves sharing knowledge, education, and ensuring access to cellular therapy for everyone. And we invite people to join this club of generosity to support this cause. And fi nally, sustainability focuses on both current and future generations, ensuring a legacy that benefits society and fulfi ls our social responsibility. You ask me about my own role. Well, I would like to be – and hope, aim, and aspire – to be an enabler for this vision, contributing to the advancement of stem cell therapies and their accessibility for the wellbeing of individuals in the UAE and worldwide.

In 2020, ADSCC gained significant attention for successfully performing the UAE’s first-ever bone marrow transplant, marking a groundbreaking achievement in precision medicine for the region. As Executive Director of the AD-BMT programme, could you provide insights into ADSCC’s other recent developments? During the pandemic, we realised the importance of self-sufficiency for the UAE in critical healthcare services. We tried to minimise our reliance on others for core services related to delivering treatments with an intention to cure. In July 2020, we conducted our fi rst bone marrow transplant for multiple myeloma, marking the beginning of our efforts to redefi ne treatments for various diseases and in 2022, we achieved a significant milestone by performing the fi rst stem cell transplant on a 20-year-old MS patient, witnessing a remarkable transformation from

I hope, aim, and aspire to be an enabler for [the UAE’s] vision, contributing to the advancement of stem cell therapies.” 18

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


Above: In March 2023, the Department of Health Abu Dhabi announced ADSCC as a centre of excellence in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation. (Credit: DoH Abu Dhabi)

being wheelchair-bound to walking independently and resuming studies. In 2023, we celebrated her not having to use a wheelchair. As the vice chair of the National MS Society in the UAE, our focus is on innovative treatments and research for tackling MS in the UAE and around the world as well. Our commitment extends to manufacturing our own CAR-T treatment, a groundbreaking therapy for leukaemia. We expedited its administration for an 11-year-old with leukaemia, defying conventional timelines. Against all odds, the patient became cancer-free a month later, providing hope for future treatments. We are now exploring to extend this innovative treatment to other diseases, reflecting our dedication to enhancing quality of life and advancing medical breakthroughs. This is our ultimate aim, of course. Our other fi rst-of-their-kind clinical trials concentrate on areas such as neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, addressing autoimmune diseases (including MS), and exploring solutions for Type 1 diabetes as an autoimmune condition.

Can you provide insights into the ongoing research projects and clinical trials taking place at ADSCC? Currently, we are conducting two in-house trials. One targets Type 1 diabetes using a technology called Extracorporeal Photopheresis (ECP), an immunomodulatory therapy used for some cancer treatments, graft-versus-host disease (GvHD), and autoimmune diseases. Then there’s our MS trial, where we are employing the same technology and anticipating having full results by end of the year. We’ve achieved a milestone by sharing interim results with positive

outcomes for the disease. Another significant focus is our study on deploying neurological stem cells directly into the brains of MS patients, a collaboration with Italian, UK, and Swiss researchers. This study was published recently in “Cell Stem Cell”, outlining the effectiveness of this approach. In our ongoing treatments, ADSCC specialises in diseases requiring hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Unlike traditional bone marrow transplants, we now extract stem cells from peripheral blood, making it similar to a blood test. This modern technique is applied to conditions such as leukaemia, lymphomas, thalassemia, sickle cell diseases, immune deficiencies, and MS. We are the fi rst in the UAE performing this advanced procedure and fi rst centre in the Middle East to use it for MS.

What about future endeavours? Looking ahead to the future and our commitment to precision medicine, we’re fi nalising a groundbreaking protocol on TILS (tumourinfi ltrating lymphocytes). This innovative approach involves extracting tumour cells, isolating lymphocytes, culturing them, and reintroducing them to combat solid tumours like lung cancer. Other future projects include utilising our neural stem cell lines to address Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Recently, ADSCC proudly launched our lab in Kyoto University in Japan, to facilitate a joint revolutionary research mission between ADSCC, Kyoto University and Rege Nephro; working with Nobel Prize-winning experts in iPSC (induced pluripotent stem cells). We’re focusing on discovering innovative diabetes treatments using human reprogrammed skin and blood cells.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



We also are working on multiple projects to lead the future of regenerating organs – specifically pancreatic and kidney cells – with the goal of reducing the need for organ transplants within the next decade. Beyond scientific advancements, our mission is to inspire young scientists and engage the local community, fostering awareness and building a skilled workforce. We aim to attract and nurture talent, encouraging individuals to consider a career in the exciting field of stem cell research.

Can you tell us more about your pharmacogenomics programme? In our journey from 2019 to now, we’ve made significant strides in expanding our services, aligning them with our R&D strategy. Central to this is our pharmacogenomic programme – integral to precision medicine – where we have our own AI tool that analyses genetic tests for over 125 drugs. This helps physicians tailor prescriptions based on an individual’s ability to metabolise drugs, eliminating the need for genetic counsellors. We’re also deeply invested in wellbeing, offering a nutrigenomics and supplement programme personalised to one’s genetic profile. This addresses individual needs for supplements, reactions to caffeine, lactose, and more, debunking misconceptions like self-diagnosed gluten intolerance. Our multidisciplinary research team of over 80 experts, spanning 10-15 nationalities, collaborates on various fronts – bioinformatics, organ regeneration, and more. This collective effort aims to bridge the gap between research and application, bringing innovation from basic research to practical healthcare solutions within our hospital ecosystem.

How does the current landscape of precision medicine, particularly in addressing conditions like MS and diabetes, align with the vision of healthcare equity and accessibility in


Abu Dhabi? Considering the selective and conditional nature of precision medicine at present, where do you see it heading in the next few years, or even a decade, given Abu Dhabi’s role in spearheading precision medicine in the region? Creating the right ecosystem for precision medicine involves a multi-faceted approach, not only from a regulatory standpoint but also in terms of awareness and engagement. From individuals to healthcare professionals, the goal is to foster self-awareness about our bodies. The UAE is making significant strides in this direction – I would say that we are pressing the pedal really hard, and I think we are going faster than anticipated – exemplified by the Emirati Genome Program examining 30x of an individual’s genes. The shift from a reactive to a proactive system is crucial. The UAE is leading by example, expanding premarital testing from three to 800 genes, allowing for early identification and prevention of genetic diseases. The emphasis extends to preconception testing through IVF (preimplantation genetic diagnosis), ensuring a healthier future generation. Over the next five years, a peak is expected in reducing rare and genetic diseases, establishing lifestyle-oriented support services, and incorporating diverse professionals like mental health professionals and nutritionists. The Ministry of Health is overseeing all of this, while health regulation authorities – such as the Department of Health Abu Dhabi and Dubai Health Authority – and operational health entities are heavily involved to drive the precision medicine agenda in the UAE.

You were recently appointed DirectorGeneral of the newly established Emirates Drug Establishment. Can you tell us a little more about your role? As an establishment, our main focus is on R&D within the pharmaceutical realm, with a keen emphasis on drug safety. We aim to streamline the

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

Below: From the opening ceremony of the recent ADSCC Bone Marrow Transplant and Cellular Therapy Congress 2023, which was attended by His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Presidential Court. (Credit: Abu Dhabi Media Office)


Creating the right ecosystem for precision medicine involves a multifaceted approach, not only from a regulatory standpoint but also in terms of awareness.” entire drug journey – from licensing to registration – and ensure public safety through vigilant pharmacovigilance. Our vision is to establish partnerships, support manufacturing locally, and elevate our presence in the market. We’re committed to being agile and forwardthinking, leveraging AI and machine learning to make drug registration seamless. Our goal is to prioritise public health, encourage research and innovation, and drive the local market’s growth while optimising the healthcare system’s overall cost. I’m obviously still new to it, but in the next two to three years, we aspire not just to be a drug establishment but to be recognised as a benchmark drug authority. This journey reflects our commitment to innovation, safety, and a transformative impact on the pharmaceutical landscape.

Will the Emirates Drug Establishment champion fast-tracking into the UAE? Absolutely. Ensuring medication safety is our priority. While fast-tracking drugs is important, we must also consider if they’re suitable for our population. Post-marketing surveillance is crucial, holding manufacturers accountable. We weigh the risks of expensive medications that may or may not work, advocating for responsible risk-taking. Emirates Drug Establishment will oversee not only clinical and preclinical trials but also will address aspects like agriculture and food safety. It’s a holistic approach to safeguard public health, incorporating transparency. Moreover, I believe that individuals should have a platform to report medication issues, fostering community awareness and potentially identifying regional concerns. Our goal is to set standards that align with international practices while tailoring them to our population’s unique needs, especially in the realm of precision medicine.

Medical tourism seems to be a core focus for the Emirates. How do you see this concept taking shape in Abu Dhabi? I prefer not to use the term medical tourism;

instead, I see it as providing necessary treatments in the UAE where people can feel at home. The focus should be on ensuring the right healthcare in the right environment. Abu Dhabi is actively embracing various aspects of wellbeing; not just conventional medicine, but also alternative medicine, mental health, and regenerative medicine. It’s essential to consider all these facets, guiding individuals to the right solutions. Abu Dhabi aims to be a comfortable wellbeing hub rather than just a commercialised destination, recognising the importance of health and people’s lives.

You mentioned wellbeing and the integral role of precision medicine, which essentially emphasises the essence of value-based healthcare, an emphasis on prevention before cure. Do you anticipate the widespread adoption of valuebased healthcare in our lifetime, where personalised treatments align with every individual’s unique makeup? Yes, I believe it’s inevitable. We’ve already initiated the process, and at the current pace, I’m confident we’ll witness it in our lifetime. Particularly with our focus on longevity, we’ll have the privilege of living healthier and longer to experience these advancements first-hand.

And obviously, the current trajectory of the healthcare system is unsustainable in the long run… Absolutely! It’s essential for people to recognise that the value of our work extends far beyond the current monetary perspective. If we consider the future impact, the economic outlook becomes brighter and more sustainable. It’s crucial to strike a balance, like a skilled maestro orchestrating, ensuring economic growth and the quality of healthcare delivery in parallel. This perspective is key to attracting the right investments and ensuring long-term success.

Looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, what short-term or long-term achievements do you hope to see in precision medicine? In 2024, I envision a crucial Key Performance Indicator (KPI) set by the authorities, aligning with our goals, and ensuring accountability. It’s not enough to just talk, attend conferences, or write articles; tangible results need a solid foundation, and authorities’ commitment is key. By the end of 2024, achieving these set KPIs will be the objective that truly demonstrates our progress and commitment to our vision.

And finally, what are your ultimate professional goals or personal aspirations within the sector? I aspire to continue being an enabler, even if it’s just a small step or a half step. My goal is to contribute positively to our endeavours throughout my journey.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



George P. Patrinos: Pioneering the future of pharmacogenomics and personalised medicine across continents With roles in prestigious institutions in Europe and the Middle East, Professor Patrinos is a key figure in advancing precision medicine in the region and beyond. iven his insanely busy schedule between Europe and the Middle East, it’s safe to say that Prof. Dr. George P. Patrinos is a man in demand. Thoroughly dedicated to championing precision medicine, Prof. Dr. Patrinos is currently a professor of pharmacogenomics and pharmaceutical biotechnology at the University of Patras, with adjunct professorships at Erasmus University Rotterdam (Department of Clinical Bioinformatics, School of Medicine) and the UAE University (Department of Genetics and Genomics at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences). In the UAE, he also serves as an advisor for the Zayed Center for Health Sciences and chairs the Scientific Advisory Board of the Abu Dhabi Precision Medicine Institute. In his roles, Prof. Dr. Patrinos is dedicated to pharmacogenomics and personalised medicine, extending from research to clinical implementation. “Our group is engaged in wet lab research, dry lab work, and public health elements, addressing ethics, economic evaluation, healthcare professional genomics education, and general public genomics awareness,” he says. The group’s holistic approach, he states, has secured funding from major bodies such as the European Commission and resulted in publications in prestigious journals, including “Nature.”

Considering your varied responsibilities, it’s intriguing how you navigate between roles. Can you tell us more about your UAE projects? In the Middle East, we’re involved in two significant projects. One is the Em-HEART clinical study on genome-guided therapeutics for cardiovascular diseases, led by the UAE University. Additionally, I chair the Scientific Advisory Board of the Abu Dhabi Precision Medicine Institute, a fiveyear AED 70 million project, open for renewal for another five years with an additional AED 70 million.


What initially attracted you to the region? The UAE possesses distinct characteristics across various aspects. First and foremost, its population exhibits a unique genetic composition and a high degree of consanguinity. This genetic makeup not only supports population genetics research but also aids in identifying potential novel genes associated with prevalent diseases. UAE University, as the leading federal medical school, provides an exceptional environment for top-tier global research. Strong collaboration with the medical faculty and other institutes in the country and the region, including Dubai, Sharjah and Qatar, fosters a positive atmosphere for highquality research.

What challenges do we currently face in precision medicine in the region? One of our strengths is data – we already have a substantial amount. The Emirati Genome Project, for example has sequenced 400,000 Emiratis, an impressive number compared to similar efforts like the All-of-Us project in the US and Genomics England initiative. The missing element, both in our project at the Abu Dhabi Precision Medicine Institute and regionally, is synergy. Collaborating between major projects could yield significant results. We aim to foster communication between entities, such as ours and the Emirati Genome project. Initially focusing on the UAE, resolving this issue could pave the way for expanding to the GCC region. Countries often pursue individual projects, but a unified approach, similar to the Genome of Europe project involving 31 countries, could consolidate findings.

What are you currently working on? At the Abu Dhabi Precision Medicine Institute, we have approximately 15 working groups, including those from prominent universities like Khalifa University, Zayed University, NYU Abu Dhabi,

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


Aside from the economic aspect, ethical considerations come into play, such as determining which tests to reimburse. Healthcare professional education is also a critical issue. Initially, professionals may be hesitant to adopt geneticguided interventions due to concerns about reducing drug doses. It takes time for them to comprehend that optimal treatment may involve such dose adjustments.

Is drug development changing with the advent of personalised therapeutics? If I wear my regulatory hat, I’ve noticed numerous requests to the European Medicine Agency involving companion diagnostics – pairing drugs with genetic tests. This trend is increasingly common in drug development. Pharmaceutical companies are leveraging this technology to enhance drug impact, minimise adverse reactions (ADRs), and expedite the drug discovery process from initial discovery to approval.

What are your views on the emerging technologies in precision medicine? and of course, the coordinating UAE University, focusing on diverse areas such as molecular physiology, pharmacogenomics, rare genetic diseases, and bioinformatics in their inaugural year. The challenge is to boost collaboration among these groups, showcasing how synergy can magnify outcomes. This model is replicable not just within the Emirati genome but can extend its impact by forming connections with other projects, using data for purposes like rare diseases, identifying novel candidate genes, and advancing pharmacogenomics. The question often arises about the real-world application timeline for these advancements. Notably, there are already successful examples, such as the European project “Ubiquitous Pharmacogenomics”, which achieved a 30% reduction in adverse drug reactions. This success was observed in psychiatry in Greece, oncology in Italy, cardiovascular diseases in Spain, and transplantation in Slovenia and Austria, showcasing clinical applicability and economic effectiveness. The same strategy is being implemented in the UAE, through the economic evaluation analysis by the Golden Helix Institute, a partner in the EmHEART project, evaluating its cost-effectiveness locally. Policymakers can leverage evidence from these studies to integrate the approach into reimbursement processes, ensuring clinical applicability. Similar evidence is anticipated for Abu Dhabi in the next year and, hopefully, for other emirates with available data.

What considerations are important for mainstream market access? If we delve into the economics of this intervention, assessing its cost-effectiveness with evidence is crucial. Spain provides a noteworthy example, demonstrating significant cost savings of 31,000 euros per quality-adjusted life year in cardiovascular disease patients. This is particularly relevant to the UAE.

AI is challenging, especially considering regulatory concerns. The FDA, for instance, is unlikely to trust AI-derived recommendations. Humans, particularly scientists, must be involved in the decision-making process. Despite attempts to use AI for regulatory guidance consensus, it fails as AI doesn’t generate consensus independently. While AI can assist, human decision-makers are crucial. Thus, at present at least, AI is far from being a key aspect of personalised medicine, in my view. Genomic technology, specifically long read sequencing, has an emerging role, especially in pharmacogenomics. Long reads, unlike short reads, can identify haplotypes and copy number variants. Short reads cannot achieve this. AI requires substantial improvement. Convincing regulators of its healthcare benefits will likely take many years.

And finally – thoughts on 2024? In 2023, we had a successful year, and we anticipate the same for 2024 as we begin to see the results of our efforts, particularly highlighted by the findings of the pharmacogenomics study in Europe, published in “The Lancet”. Additionally, the pilot study of the Emirati pharmacogenomics project appeared in “Human Genomics”, further establishing the significance of our work. Looking ahead to 2024, our focus is on publishing both clinical and economic evidence for genomeguided therapeutics arising from the European and Emirati projects. This involves presenting compelling evidence to decision-makers, encompassing not only clinical aspects but also economic considerations. In the coming years, our goal is to demonstrate the positive outcomes of our approach, persuading stakeholders that it benefits patients. We aim to replicate these studies in other regions, showcasing the broader impact and encouraging widespread adoption.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



HOW DUBAI IS UNLOCKING THE POWER OF DATA TO ENHANCE FUTURE HEALTHCARE Dubai’s healthcare system is the result of a well-planned strategy that fuses cutting -edge technology, visionary leadership, and a commitment to improving outcomes for all. B Y M A R WA N A B D U L A Z I Z J A N A H I Senior Vice President of Dubai Science Park, par t of TECOM Group PJSC

s Dubai continues to strengthen the global body of knowledge in healthcare, its push for greater precision and patient-centric healthcare is paving the way for more effective, personalised treatments that can benefit individuals worldwide. Healthcare spending within the city totalled AED 21.2 billion during 2022, ranking it second among GCC countries in terms of health expenditure as a percentage of GDP (5.2%), Dubai Health Authority’s data shows. This upward trajectory is the result of a well-planned strategy that fuses cutting-edge technology, visionary leadership, and a commitment to improving outcomes for all. Data is an invaluable resource guiding the development of Dubai’s future-ready precision healthcare solutions in line with global industry expectations. The World Economic Forum estimates hospitals alone produce 50 petabytes – or 50,000 terabytes – of data per year, and according to an International Data Corporation (IDC) white paper, healthcare data is expected to grow at a CAGR of 36% by 2025 amid advancements in analytics and imaging quality across the sector. From wearable devices through to electronic health records and genomics data gathered by healthcare providers and researchers, the wealth of information expected to become available


for the medical industry in the coming years is unprecedented. Dubai is harnessing the inherent potential of such data through collaboration between government bodies, private enterprises, and research institutions. Robust research and development (R&D) initiatives are facilitating Dubai’s contribution to the future of precision healthcare. Be it the overarching Dubai Economic Agenda ‘D33’ vision or the innovation-centric Dubai Research and Development Programme, government policy is firmly committed to enabling scientific advancements across the healthcare value chain. Initiatives such as Golden Visas for skilled professionals are further attracting globally talented doctors, scientists, and medical researchers to the city. Home to more than 450 industry leaders and 5,500 professionals from the life, energy, and environmental sciences, Dubai Science Park has also nurtured an ecosystem that attracts top-tier researchers, scientists, and medical professionals from around the world. Part of TECOM Group PJSC, the community provides a forward-thinking environment that leverages Dubai’s expertise as a geographical and cultural meeting point to encourage innovation that can transform theoretical concepts into tangible benefits. As one of TECOM Group’s 10 strategic, sectorfocused communities in the city, Dubai Science Park also fosters the collaborative spirit that is

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


essential to future-proof scientific discovery, where advancements often require a multidisciplinary approach. For instance, Indian pharmaceuticals giant Himalaya Wellness, which already operates a world-class R&D centre at Dubai Science Park, is now developing a manufacturing facility at Dubai Industrial City that will allow its talent to further collaborate for product development and technology transfer. Healthcare innovation is also spurred by in5, TECOM Group’s start-up incubator that has nourished enterprises such as Detectiome, the precision medicine specialist which launched a multi-cancer early detection test powered by artificial intelligence in October. Named ‘Revonco’, the test has been designed for the Middle Eastern population’s unique genetic makeup, which is significant considering a product developed for the US and EU genetic population can be up to 2x less effective when used in the Middle East, according to Detectiome’s research. TECOM Group’s ecosystem is also home to healthcare innovators like in5’s ShopDoc, which launched the world’s first metaverse primary health venture for schools in 2022, and ProvenMed, which from its offices in Dubai Science Park delivers a wearable device to help discreetly and comfortably manage urinary incontinence. Such success stories within our ecosystems – both at Dubai Science Park and TECOM Group – reiterate the intrinsic link between the future of healthcare and the transformative power of data. Dubai’s commitment to innovation, coupled with its geographic connectivity and visionary leadership, positions it as a global market of interest for precision-focused R&D in medicine, and Dubai Science Park will continue to harness the potential of data for the benefit of all. Special thanks to Marwan Abdulaziz Janahi for his guest contribution.

“Data is an invaluable resource guiding the development of Dubai’s future-ready precision healthcare solutions in line with global industry expectations.”

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



TOOLS OF TRANSFORMATION PrecisionMed International explores the various technologies and products currently impacting precision medicine for the better.

THERMO FISHER SCIENTIFIC Vanquish Analytical Purifi cation LC System The Vanquish Analytical Purifi cation LC Systems are based on the integrated Thermo Scientifi c Vanquish LC Fraction Collector featuring: • Application fl exibility is driven by compatibility with various sample containers, fractionation modes, and a wide range of fl ow rates from 50 L/min to 10 mL/min • Protection of fraction integrity through fail-safe vessel rack or well plate recognition, precise fractionation needle movement, and temperature-controlled storage. • High resolution and recovery while minimising carryover by precise delay volume determination and optimised fluidics paired with extensive needle wash and flush options.

• Easy control and maximised productivity through Thermo Scientifi c Chromeleon Chromatography Data System with instrument method wizards including fractionation simulation windows. • Commonly used for isolation of impurities or purifi cation of active substances, like antibody, proteins, protein fragments, oligonucleotides, mRNA reagents, traditional medicines and natural products. Find it at: thermofi



LabVantage Medical Suite

IQVIA Planning Suite

The LabVantage Medical Suite is a proven Laboratory Information System (LIS) that seamlessly integrates all medical laboratory disciplines in a single, easy-to-use platform. It streamlines laboratory operations, automates routine tasks and processes, and reduces errors and overall costs. The diagnostics solution is a pure HTML5compliant, browser-based system with zero footprint. There are no client programs to install and maintain; no applets or plugins to be managed. This reduces IT maintenance costs as well enables users to access laboratory information from any device. The LabVantage medical suite can be hosted anywhere. Find it at:

Driven by IQVIA Connected Intelligence, the IQVIA Planning Suite optimises development activities from protocol design, feasibility, and site selection to patient enrollment and course correction. Users can predict operational execution and budgeting with unparalleled accuracy, and keep their studies on track by more predictably planning, managing, and fl exibly reforecasting patient enrollment scenarios. Designed to handle study complexities and multiple operating models, the IQVIA Planning Suite shortens timelines and optimises operational execution, and provides early insights into potential risks or delays plus enables rescue strategy modelling. Find it at:

BABIRUS ALEX Allergy Explorer ALEX is the fi rst in-vitro multiplex allergy test that allows the simultaneous measurement of total IgE (tIgE) and specifi c IgE (sIgE) against a plethora of allergen extracts and molecular allergens. Based on its test panels’ composition of allergen extracts and molecular allergens, a near complete picture of each patient’s sensitisation status is obtained. ALEX is based on a proprietary nano-bead technology where every allergen (extract) can be individually optimised for production. The fl exible analysis software allows users to analyse tailormade allergen panels as they see fi t for their clinical needs. Find it at:


PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

Variant annotation and interpretation for whole genomes, exomes, and gene panels.

Upload FASTQ or VCF

Dynamic filtering

Customizable reports

• Variant calling from FASTQ powered by Sentieon.

• With our dynamic filters you have the ability to reduce your search space.

• Branding and layout of reports can be adjusted to suit your lab’s branding policy.

• Prioritize your causative variants with our AI-developed filtering tool, VarSome Picks.

• PharmCat integration offers pharmacogenomic reports.

• Perform risk carrier screening for couples, analysis of tumor-normal samples, trio analysis, or small cohort analysis.

Annotation and classification • Over 140 databases including OMIM®, LOVD, ClinVar. • Over 4 million linked publications. • Manually curated publications. • Automated real-time classification for germline, somatic, and CNV according to industry-standard guidelines. • Splicing and missense predictions to decide whether some rules should be applied or to boost their strength. • Tissue-specific variant expression data from the Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) project. • MANE, Ensembl, and RefSeq transcripts. • Protein annotation.

Built with Swiss precision by

Scan to find out more

Keeping your data safe

We understand the importance of data protection and compliance with the local legislation. That’s why we offer on-premises installation upon request.


FROM VISION TO REALITY: HOW SAUDI ARABIA IS SURGING AHEAD IN GENOMIC MEDICINE Dr. Ahmed Alfares, Deputy Executive Director at King Faisal Specialist Hospital’s Centre for Genomic Medicine, shares insights into the Kingdom’s remarkable journey, highlighting advancements in next-generation molecular genetics sequencing and the pioneering focus on large-scale exome and genome testing. S P E C I A L F E AT U R E C O U R T E S Y S A P H E T O R

enior consultant Dr. Ahmed Alfares serves as the Deputy Executive Director at the Centre for Genomic Medicine at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, KSA. He is currently leading the development of a next-generation molecular genetics sequencing lab, focusing on large-scale exome and genome testing.

What is the targeted impact of genomic medicine as part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030? Are there any key deliverables or objectives that you are collectively trying to achieve to advance healthcare? Genomic medicine is poised to revolutionise healthcare in Saudi Arabia as part of Vision 2030. Our primary objective is to harness genomic data to enhance disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. By integrating genomics into healthcare, we aim to provide personalised and precise medical solutions, ensuring the well-being of the Saudi population. Key deliverables include advancing genetic research, establishing efficient genetic testing and counselling services, and integrating genomic data into clinical decision-making processes, ultimately improving patient outcomes, and reducing the burden on the healthcare system.

What is the current state of healthcare in the Kingdom, and how will it be impacted by the growth and integration of genomic medicine approaches? Currently, healthcare in Saudi Arabia is robust, but genomics will elevate it to unprecedented levels. Genomic medicine will enable early disease detection, tailored therapies, and personalised medicine. This approach will transform healthcare from a reactive model to a proactive, predictive, and


preventive system. It will empower healthcare providers with valuable insights, leading to more accurate diagnoses, targeted treatments, and improved overall healthcare outcomes for patients.

What lessons have you learned from genomic medicine programmes in other countries that have helped shape your approach? Learning from other countries, we understand the significance of multidisciplinary collaboration. Collaborative efforts between geneticists, clinicians, bioinformaticians, and policymakers are crucial. Additionally, data privacy and security, along with effective patient and clinician education, are paramount. By integrating these lessons, we ensure our genomic medicine program is ethically sound, inclusive, and technologically robust.

What barriers to integration have you observed that other countries have encountered? Several challenges have hindered integration in other countries, including fragmented healthcare systems, lack of standardised protocols, insufficient genetic literacy among healthcare professionals and the public, and limited reimbursement for genetic services. Overcoming these challenges demands comprehensive education, policy reforms, and international collaboration to establish standardised practices and ensure equitable access to genomic healthcare services.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


“The convergence of visionary leadership, increasing genetic literacy, technological advancements, and the availability of genomic data uniquely positions the Kingdom for genomic medicine integration.”

What aspects of the current status of genomic technologies in the Kingdom suggest that now is the moment to propel forward Vision 2030, with genomic medicine playing a significant role? Saudi Arabia boasts a robust healthcare infrastructure and a vision for technological advancement. The convergence of visionary leadership, increasing genetic literacy, technological advancements, and the availability of genomic data uniquely positions the country for genomic medicine integration. The Kingdom’s commitment to research and development aligns perfectly with the transformative potential of genomic medicine.

For you personally, what makes you excited about bringing the Kingdom to the forefront of genomic medicine? I am driven by the potential to transform lives. Genomic medicine allows us to decode the mysteries of diseases, offering personalised solutions and empowering individuals and families. Witnessing the positive impact of our work on patients fuels my excitement and confidence. Moreover, the support from the leadership and the dedication of our team strengthen my belief in our ability to lead Saudi Arabia into a genomic medicine-driven future.

What are the most important enabling technologies that you rely on? Sequencing technologies are pivotal. Highthroughput sequencing enables us to analyse vast genomic data efficiently. Additionally, bioinformatics tools like VarSome play a vital role in interpreting variants, ensuring accurate diagnoses, and guiding treatment decisions.

Are there technologies that you feel might have a significant impact on genomic healthcare in the near future? Is there anything coming up that excites you from a technology standpoint?

Long-read sequencing technologies are incredibly promising. They offer comprehensive insights into complex genomic regions, improving diagnostic accuracy and reducing the time and cost of diagnoses. Furthermore, advancements in singlecell sequencing and CRISPR-based gene editing techniques, multi-omics approaches are exciting, promising more targeted and effective therapies.

What kind of impact do you think longread sequencing technologies might have on improving diagnostic yield, as well as speed and cost of a diagnosis? Long-read sequencing technologies significantly enhance diagnostic yield by capturing large structural variants and complex genomic rearrangements. Their ability to provide more complete and accurate genomic information expedites diagnosis, enabling timely interventions. Although initial costs might be higher, the comprehensive data they provide can ultimately reduce overall healthcare expenses by minimising unnecessary tests and treatments.

What do you think could be the impact of the work happening in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on global health? Saudi Arabia’s genomic initiatives contribute valuable data from diverse populations, enriching our understanding of genetic variations globally. This data is instrumental in advancing precision medicine worldwide, especially in underrepresented populations. Additionally, by setting high standards in genomic research and healthcare, Saudi Arabia serves as a model for other nations, inspiring advancements in their healthcare systems.

What would you like to see in 2024? I would like to emphasise the importance of international collaboration. Genomic research knows no borders, and by working together, we accelerate scientific discoveries, and enhance healthcare outcomes globally. Furthermore, public engagement and genetic literacy are integral. Educating the public about genomics ensures informed decisionmaking, fosters trust, and promotes inclusivity in genomic healthcare services. Learn more at

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



SAUDI ARABIA’S INNOVATION JOURNEY: SHAPING THE FUTURE OF PRECISION MEDICINE The Kingdom’s unwavering dedication to adopting and championing healthcare technologies – including within precision medicine – is reshaping the healthcare landscape in the nation and wider GCC for the better. B Y M E S H A R I F. A L WA S H M I , P H . D C E O & C o - f o u n d e r, A m p l i f A I H e a l t h K S A

ike Formula 1 racing, where cuttingedge technologies drive performance improvements, humans are benefiting from a multitude of technologies that are reshaping the landscape of personalised medicine and digital twins. These transformative innovations are bringing us closer to a future where healthcare is proactive and individualised, prioritising wellness over illness. This exciting parallel underscores the tremendous potential for healthcare professionals, innovators, and healthtech stakeholders to harness these advances for the betterment of patient care. Building precision medicine innovations differs significantly from conventional businesses, where coding and selling products can be relatively straightforward. Globally, within the realm of healthtech, the journey to market is characterised by intricate regulations and a significant time investment. Often, there is a pervasive lack of understanding regarding the complexities involved in bringing these innovations to fruition. This unique sector necessitates collaboration across various ministries and stakeholders, making it a challenging terrain to navigate. Many generalist investors find themselves unequipped to handle the intricacies of this specialised field, further underlining the need for a nuanced approach to funding and support. It is crucial to emphasise that removal of these barriers can have a profound impact on the economy and society. The unlocked potential of precision medicine has the power to revolutionise healthcare, improve patient outcomes, and reduce costs. The ripple effect of such innovations extends far beyond healthcare, impacting various sectors of the economy and positively shaping society as a whole. Recognising and supporting this transformative potential is paramount to realising a brighter and healthier future for everyone.


SAUDI VISION 2030 With the innovative and ambitious Vision 2030 firmly in place, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is undergoing a transformation that extends far beyond the realm of well-known projects. While these highprofile investments – such as NEOM, Lucid Motors, and the entry of sports icons such as Cristiano Ronaldo – have undoubtedly captured the world’s attention, they are essential components of a broader vision for the nation’s future. Vision 2030 encompasses a multifaceted strategy that includes economic diversification, technological innovation, social development, and sustainable growth. It recognises that Saudi Arabia’s true

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


potential lies in cultivating a diverse and dynamic ecosystem, one that is ready to drive the nation’s progress and prosperity. The existing ecosystem in Saudi Arabia has provided a solid foundation for fostering innovation in precision medicine. It possesses the essential pieces of the puzzle – the availability of both public and private funding, the implementation of progressive regulations that align with the pace of innovation, and the development of infrastructure capable of hosting and supporting these transformative endeavours.

FUNDING THE FUTURE Saudi Arabia has allocated significant funding R&D, totalling SAR 14.5 billion ($3.9bn) [as announced in] 2021; showcasing a strong commitment to innovation. New incentives, including those in precision medicine, have been introduced to promote these innovations. Key initiatives, such as the Saudi National Institute of Health, the Research, Development, and Innovation Authority (RDIA), and the Hevolution Foundation, are driving innovation by supporting research, development, and entrepreneurship. These new initiatives, which were not viable options before this year, are set to usher in an era of transformative discoveries, bridging the gap between research and practical applications. In addition to these grants, the Kingdom has achieved a remarkable milestone by securing the 2023 top position in VC funding in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), commanding an impressive 52% of the total VC funding in the region that year. To further enhance its innovation pipeline, the nation has attracted internationally renowned accelerators such as Techstars, Global 500, and SparkLabs, which are actively working to propel promising innovations. Simultaneously, Saudi Arabia has established national technology development programmes, providing comprehensive support to ventures from conceptual stages to potentially achieving unicorn status. These strategic efforts collectively underscore Saudi Arabia’s unwavering commitment to fostering a thriving innovation landscape and cementing its position as a global leader in healthtech.

REGULATORY ADVANCEMENTS The Kingdom is also making substantial gains in advancing its regulatory framework to support its healthcare innovation agenda. These regulatory improvements, alongside the implementation of the National Biotechnology Strategy, have streamlined the country’s capacity for clinical trials, testing, and bioethics, positioning it as an attractive destination for cutting-edge research and development. Notably, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) has introduced an Innovative Medical Devices pathway, expediting regulatory processes to grant patients access to innovative technologies while ensuring safety and effectiveness. Furthermore, the Healthcare Sandbox, initiated by the Ministry of Health (MoH), is geared towards modernising the nation’s healthcare services

through digital transformation. This visionary project encourages collaboration among stakeholders, enabling entrepreneurs to navigate regulatory complexities with greater ease and to focus on executing their healthcare innovations. These proactive measures underline Saudi Arabia’s strong commitment to embracing and championing healthcare technologies to positively transform the healthcare landscape.

INFRASTRUCTURE FOR INNOVATION Saudi Arabia has implemented a robust foundation to support innovation, particularly in the field of biotechnology. Flagship institutions, including the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, King Saud University, and the King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre, have made substantial investments in infrastructure. These institutions boast state-of-the-art laboratories and spearhead innovation initiatives like the Saudi Human Genome Program. This solid infrastructure positions the country favourably to develop a leading biotech and medtech cluster over the coming decade. The nation has become a hub for showcasing innovation and fostering collaboration, hosting a range of influential conferences, such as the Riyadh Global Medical Biotechnology Summit, which serve as prominent platforms for advancing discussions on medical and biotechnological breakthroughs. This convergence of factors establishes Saudi Arabia as a dynamic hub poised to make significant advances in the realms of precision medicine and biotechnology, ultimately benefiting not just the nation itself, but contributing to global advancements in healthcare. As co-founder of amplifAI health, I am proud to be part of a tremendously supportive startup ecosystem. Along with my team, we stand at the forefront of healthcare innovation and are committed to making a profound impact on the future of healthcare. With the nation’s visionary leadership and commitment to fostering an innovation-friendly environment, we are confident that together, we will shape a brighter and healthier future for all. Special thanks to Dr. Meshari F. Alwashmi for his guest contribution.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



MEET THE CHANGEMAKERS Saudi Arabia is actively advancing its commitment to healthcare innovation and the integration of state-of-the-art medical technologies in the Kingdom. The government’s emphasis on fostering research and development in the healthcare sector, promoting the adoption of AI-driven diagnostics, precision medicine, and advanced medical devices, is increasingly evident across both public and private domains. Here are some institutes and entities to watch. NEOM NEOM plans to establish a comprehensive health, wellbeing, and biotech ecosystem that surpasses conventional medical care, off ering an unparalleled end-toend system focused entirely on the individual. With top-notch treatment and inclusive care, NEOM aims to leverage innovative technology, research, and education to set a global benchmark in the field. Key objectives involve delivering a holistic experience throughout the entire care process, empowering individuals for proactive prevention, designing a digitalfirst ecosystem accessible 24/7, and leading the way in genetics as the future of personalised care.

Lifera In 2023, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced the establishment of the Pharmaceutical Investment Company (Lifera), a commercial-scale contract development and manufacturing organisation. Lifera aims to facilitate the growth of the local biopharmaceutical industry, strengthen national resilience, and support Saudi Arabia’s position as a global pharmaceutical manufacturing hub. Lifera will prioritise the production of life-saving and essential pharmaceutical products, including cell and gene therapies. The company plans to forge partnerships with leading local and international firms and attract targeted investments to expand local capacity, fostering the development of domestic manufacturing in the sector.


King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (K AUST)

King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre (KFSH & RC)

KAUST has solidified its position as a premier global research university through unwavering dedication to research, innovation, and nurturing talent. Globally ranked first for citations per faculty, KAUST is renowned for impactful research that contributes to global betterment. The new era at KAUST, marked by a refined strategy, builds upon past successes and robust foundations. This evolution aligns the university more closely with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 ambitions.

Specialising in both inpatient and outpatient medical care, KFSH & RC actively engages in numerous clinical and research studies. It consistently receives recognition and high rankings as one of the nation’s premier hospitals, particularly excelling in oncology, organ transplantation, cardiovascular diseases, neurosciences, and genetic diseases. KFSH & RC delivers specialised healthcare within a dynamic and thriving educational and research environment.

Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare Combining the expertise of Johns Hopkins Medicine, a globally respected academic health institution, and Saudi Aramco, one of the world’s largest energy companies, resulted in the establishment of Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare (JHAH) in 2013. This collaboration aimed to enhance the healthcare services available to Saudi Aramco employees and their dependents, expanding beyond the capabilities of the company’s existing medical facilities. Today, JHAH off ers a comprehensive range of inpatient and outpatient services through various clinics, with a focus on addressing health challenges in the communities it serves. Known for its world-class healthcare provision, JHAH utilises leading technologies and treatments to improve the well-being of families across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

BGI Genomics x Genalive BGI Genomics, through its joint venture Genalive, is driving innovative precision medicine solutions in Riyadh. Led by laboratory director Dr. Yusra Alyafee, Genalive’s multicultural team focuses on a comprehensive range of tests, including prenatal, postnatal, inherited, and cancer genetics, localised within Saudi Arabia for enhanced aff ordability. Genalive’s laboratory, covering 4,000 square metres, is one of the largest and most advanced in the country. Aligned with Saudi Vision 2030, the company’s mission emphasises preventive medicine and tackling genetic disorders through advanced screening technologies, contributing to the transformation of healthcare outcomes in the Middle East. Genalive is a joint venture between BGI Almanahil Health for Medical Services, a subsidiary of BGI Genomics, and Tibbiyah Holding.

KSA EDITION With its unrivalled success in the UAE and the exhibition and conference doubling year on year, PrecisionMed Exhibition & Summit is to run with an equivalent edition specifically for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. PMES with take place in Riyadh, at the Crowne Plaza RDC, delivering a two-day pan-Saudi Arabia, conference and exhibition on the 21st and 22nd October, 2024.

Building the Digital Twin for Precision Medicine Combining detection technology and AI to build the metabolic modality of the digital twin

Cyber-physical system: From analog blood samples to digital blood samples for health tests


Advanced detection: Utilization of NMR and AI to digitally capture more than 1,000 metabolites representing health status

Human Profiles

AI and data science: A self-improving system with 220,000+ human datasets representing age and sex-specific health baselines of healthy individuals and 300+ diseases



In-silico diagnostics: Development of a “Digital Twin” for personalized in-silico diagnostics through medical algorithms utilizing the lifespin database

lifespin® Blood Testing Benefits* *Compared to Legacy Clinical Blood Testing Standard-of-Care (SoC)










Smaller Sample

Less Expensive


More Health Data

Revenue Stream

For further information please contact:

Dr. Ali Tinazli w w w. l i f e s p i n . h e a l t h lifespin GmbH All Rights Reserved. Distribution, Citation or Copying Without Permission is Strictly Prohibited.

CEO, lifespin

+49 160 257 3458

See it in Action: Scan our QR code and experience the transformation of a blood sample into the digital world.

Contact via WhatsApp

Contact via LinkedIn

See it in Action


AI & PRECISION MEDICINE TO USHER IN A NEW AGE OF PERSONALISED HEALTHCARE The UAE’s Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) is revolutionising personalised medicine by combining computer vision, machine learning, causal learning, and natural language processing. Here’s how. BY PROFESSOR KUN ZHANG MBZUAI ACTING CHAIR OF MACHINE LEARNING, PROFESSOR OF MACHINE LE ARNING, AND DIRECTOR O F T H E C E N T E R F O R I N T E G R AT I V E A R T I F I C I A L I N T E L L I G E N C E (C I A I )

rtificial intelligence (AI) is making great strides in tailoring healthcare and medicine to the specific needs of individuals to deliver better care for the world’s growing – and rapidly ageing – population. Using AI disciplines including computer vision, machine learning, causal learning, and natural language processing, we can better understand the causes of illness and disease and design effective, targeted treatments that cause minimal side effects. At Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), we are using AI to gain new, and more nuanced, insights and greater understanding of human physiology, disease, and its effects on individuals and populations. By 2030, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that one sixth of the global population will be aged 60 years or over, placing additional strain on healthcare services in many countries around the world. AI enables solutions with increased efficiency and innovation across all areas of healthcare, from diagnosis, to delivering personalised treatment, monitoring patients, and developing new drugs and treatments that would – without AI – take many more years and dollars to develop. At MBZUAI, we are using AI to develop and use large biological models for drug discovery and precision medicine, as well as developing digital models of human beings to learn more about specific conditions and the effectiveness of treatments. AI is unique in its ability to analyse vast quantities of data, learning to spot patterns that can help healthcare professionals to predict and detect an array of conditions, see the underlying causal process, and treat them in a more nuanced way. Teams at MBZUAI are working on numerous research projects and initiatives aimed at delivering precision healthcare and treatments across a broad range of illnesses and conditions, from Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) in children, to the early detection of heart disease and foetal abnormalities, allowing for earlier, more bespoke interventions.

TREATING CHILDREN WITH ADHD Our work on ADHD, in partnership with Infi nite Brain Technologies (IBT), is aimed at helping diagnose and treat children with the condition, which affects some 129 million children and adolescents worldwide between the ages of five to 19 years, according to Children and Adults with AttentionDeficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). Our research focuses on using AI for causal discovery and causal representation to enhance our understanding of the underlying hidden factors behind ADHD and to measure this along with causal influences. This project uses specially designed electronic games which stimulate certain parts of the brain as a treatment, and AI is proving invaluable in tailoring the treatment for children’s individual needs. AI also enables us to analyse the impact of the treatment more accurately.

EXPLORING GUT HEALTH MBZUAI is also working with partner organisations to expand the use of AI to analyse biobanks to learn more about aspects of human physiology including gut health, which is extremely complex and affects many areas of people’s wellbeing. With the human gut being home to millions of types of bacteria, AI is already proving key in analysing the impact of various types of bacteria and their potential role in conditions including obesity and diabetes. AI will increasingly improve our understanding of the underlying causes of many diseases to such a degree that in many cases, healthcare professionals will be able to make much earlier interventions to help prevent serious health conditions arising in the fi rst place, for example by being able to use known biomarkers to predict if a person is predisposed to type-2 diabetes, enabling them to modify their lifestyle. AI in healthcare will help to deliver a new level of personalization, giving healthcare professionals tools that provide greater insights into dependence patterns and the underlying causal processes and enhanced treatments, and giving individuals a far greater degree of control over their health. Special thanks to Professor Kun Zhang for his guest contribution.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



NEXT-GEN PRECISION MEDICINE: PAVING A NEW ERA IN PATIENTCENTRIC CARE? Customisable precision medicine offers the remarkable promise of next-generation medicine for truly patient-centric care. B Y M WA L I D Q O R O N F L E H , P H D , M B A C o - F o u n d e r & M a n a g i n g D i r e c t o r, Q 3 C o n s u l t i n g G r o u p (Q 3 C G ) E x e c u t i v e D i r e c t o r, Q 3 R e s e a r c h I n s t i t u t e (Q R I ) , M i c h i g a n , U S A


PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

Morocco. Increasingly, there is a call for mapping the Arab genome, given that this area is a cradle for ancient civilisations, necessitating the growth of a body of reference genomes, identification of clinically relevant traits, and cataloguing of medically actionable genomic variants. Both the UAE and Qatar are leading the way in this regard. It is noteworthy to mention that, in parallel, downstream matters need to be actively addressed for the full implementation of precision medicine and to experience its benefits at the patient level. Among these are the following: building state-of-the-art technologies, developing regulations and compliance policies, structuring/expanding insurance and reimbursement coverage, protecting innovations and patents, developing human resources, and ensuring sustainable levels of funding, to name a few. It is estimated that healthcare expenditure in the GCC reached $104.6 billion in 2022. Historically, government health authorities in the GCC have functioned as regulators, operators, and insurers. National long-term healthcare strategies are being formulated to migrate towards precision health/ lifestyle medicine, to expand the role of the private healthcare sector, and even to become a medical tourism destination. The UAE is by far one of the fastest-growing hubs for medical tourism globally. Next-generation precision medicine and precision health in the MENA region, as indicated, will be largely driven by AI. Other complementary instruments will include the automation of medical/


ext-generation precision medicine... As Shakespeare famously said, “What’s in a name?” Well, a quiet revolution has been underway over the past few years. Two dynamic forces have propelled precision medicine into the limelight and garnered public attention. The fi rst driver is the realisation that populations within a disease area can be stratified, thus allowing for the development of therapies tailored to their specific needs, and the capability to identify these populations by analysing large, diverse datasets. The second driver is technological advances in multi-omics approaches and applications (i.e., molecularly informed medicine), enabling a more comprehensive portrait of disease biology. This not only promises to accelerate the development of the precision medicine process but also presents challenges for healthcare professionals and health systems that are struggling to interconnect and integrate disparate data sources into a cohesive clinical strategy for the benefit of their patients.

TO BREATHE LIFE INTO DATA Enter AI and machine learning (ML) tools. The powerful combination of AI and precision medicine undeniably is a transformative force in healthcare. The goal for healthcare management is the delivery of effective, patient-centred care in an equitable and timely manner. But fulfi lling this promise will not be straightforward. Innovations within the healthcare system are challenging at the best of times, therefore developing the right framework for an information management system (IMS) is paramount. Enormous amounts of health and medical records data is generated daily, with tremendous potential applications. While the data is there, it remains underutilised, with limited valuable information being extracted. One of the essential enablers to achieve this IMS goal is an integrated and comprehensive pathway for healthcare data storage, analysis, and utilisation. Additionally, substantial collaboration between the various stakeholders in healthcare is critical to ensure the complete rollout of patient-centred care and “P4” medicine – namely, medicine that is evidence-based and predictive, preventive, personalised, and participatory.

LARGE-SCALE POPULATION GENOMICS PROJECTS At a population level, most initial studies have focused on Western-European or North-American populations. Recognising the limited transferability of genomic medicine, other projects were launched, such as for isolated populations like Iceland, Sardinia, and the Faroe Islands, or small nations like Estonia, and more recently, Qatar. There are

large-scale projects as well in China, Australia, and Turkey, among others. The United Kingdom leads the way with their 100,000 Genomes Project. Today, over 85,000 genomes have been sequenced, mostly from public NHS patients affected by rare diseases or cancer, leading to groundbreaking insights and fi ndings. In the United States, the All of Us Research Program by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) aims to enrol a total of one million Americans, who will provide personal health, socio-economic, and socio-cultural data, along with biological samples, all linked to electronic health records (EHR) to create a national database that facilitates large-scale longitudinal studies. The consortium is led by the Scripps Research Translational Institute, receiving five years of total funding of $282 million. Indeed, massive integration of personalised health and large-scale epidemiological and molecular data (460,000 participants nationwide to date), combined with the use of AI and ML, is underway to achieve culturally and demographically relevant outcomes in precision medicine and population health, in ways that are practical and appealing to stakeholders. Representation of human populations from various geographies and ethnicities is necessary to achieve the promises of next-generation precision medicine. For example, H3Africa’s African Genome Project, and even the European Union’s 1+ Million Genomes fall into this category. Despite several new initiatives, there is still a need to cover a large and ethnically rich region like the Middle East or Middle East and North Africa (MENA). To our knowledge, there is no comprehensive information on the genomes of Arab populations available at the moment.

MENA POPULATION PROJECTS The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries – specifically Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar – were among the fi rst states to strive towards precision medicine deployment. These endeavours were initiated by a significant investment in infrastructure, launching national genome sequencing projects, and establishing biobanks facilitated by bioinformatics, computational methods, and AI tools. Invariably, the primary focus of these efforts has been genomic medicine, i.e., delivering actionable routine clinical care in rare genetic disorders, prenatal/newborn services, and pharmacogenomics (drug response). Other countries in the Middle East are exerting efforts in this area, such as Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, and

While the data is there, it remains underutilised, with limited valuable information being extracted.”

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



healthcare centres, digitisation of electronic medical records (EMRs), mobile applications, remote patient monitoring, telemedicine, omics-specific signatures, and pre-clinical scalable models. The chief challenges here are how well precision medicine permeates primary care to become a standard of care and to what extent access to care is feasible, streamlined, and routine.

PERSONAL CLINICAL GENOMICS Rare diseases affect 30 million people in the USA and more than 300 to 400 million worldwide. Rare inherited diseases exemplify the healthcare burden in the GCC. By one estimate, about 8% of infants in the Gulf region are born with some type of genetic disorder. The implementation of next-generation sequencing in the clinics (clinical genomics) has ushered in a new era of genomic medicine to support patient diagnosis and care. Ultra-(rapid) genome sequencing is a paradigm shift both in terms of rare cases or undiagnosed diseases, enabling faster treatment, right up to population-level systemic changes to national and international healthcare policy. AI approaches are central to this advancement to automate and accelerate genomic analysis, where the workflow is optimised for speed, accuracy, and reporting. The timely delivery of tailored results informs medical management, expedites disease-specific molecular diagnoses, and arms clinicians with insights on evidence-based intervention options. Additionally, long-read DNA sequencing is emerging as an important technique for rare/ complex human genetic diseases to identify pathogenic mutations, which may also be applied to molecular diagnosis and therapeutic strategies for patients with genetic diseases in the future. In fact, rapid whole-genome sequencing as a service for newborns with rare diseases is becoming a reality both in the UAE and Qatar.

TRENDS, CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES Demonstrating the value of next-generation precision medicine is critical to garner the support of healthcare decision-makers, particularly funders, as it requires investment in infrastructure and information management capabilities. Equally important is the development of the workforce and capacity-building assets for eventual and continued implementation. In this regard, there may be a need to reform medical education and institutions to accelerate adoption. A true measure of the success of next-generation precision medicine is the ability to take advantage of omic layers, multidimensional data integration, and assimilate them into primary care services to better serve patients. One aspect that, to this date, is substantially ignored is the consideration for culture and faith incorporation into precision medicine planning and decision-making.

NEXT-GEN IN PRACTICE The implementation outlook will vary by jurisdiction because healthcare is a continuum. The spectrum of the healthcare system ranges from fully centralised


PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

Demonstrating the value of next-generation precision medicine is critical to garner the support of healthcare decision-makers.” (nations with public/government health systems) to decentralised systems (nations with private health systems). In any case, many questions must be answered concerning investment in infrastructure and IMS, such as: Who will pay for the implementation? Who will oversee the fused data macrocosm? How will patients and private entities be encouraged to buy into healthcare fusion? Among other important issues, privacy and cybersecurity. Undoubtedly, we are experiencing the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In this information age that will lead to next-generation precision medicine and precision public health, a health information centre (HIC) or a national centralised database of sorts – which is data-driven, technology-enabled, and business-induced – is vital to make the mission a reality. Of course, this has implications at the patient and population levels. Deploying and harnessing quantum computing capability will redefine and revolutionise healthcare to solve complex problems and perform simulations. The collaboration of the Cleveland Clinic with IBM falls in this vein. At the drug discovery and development level, a few things will be witnessed with respect to many improvements in biosampling, biological models, pre-/clinical predictive models, translational potential (bench to bedside and vice versa), and clinical trials design. Ultimately, the beneficiaries are the patients regarding highly personalised, precise therapy and overall better care, better value,


better health, and better social outcomes at the healthcare system level.

• Investment necessity in healthcare research/systems to enable responding to a country’s national health priorities and to strengthen public health policies • The need for multi-sectoral involvement of stakeholders to bridge the gap between research, population health, and politics • Atypical stakeholders’ engagement, bond to politics, and open science are prerequisites to achieving healthcare objectives and policy success to reap the benefits of next-generation precision medicine and public health results.

FUTURE PERSPECTIVE & FINAL THOUGHTS BEYOND NEXT-GENERATION PRECISION MEDICINE The discussion here highlights the need for a paradigm shift in healthcare leaders and professionals to translate the vision into reality. A key activity is an umbrella for healthcare services, research, knowledge expansion, and extensive collaborations. It remains necessary to formulate an overarching IMS framework to unify stakeholders and collect, manage, secure,

Customisable precision medicine offers the remarkable promise of nextgeneration (digital) medicine for truly patient-centric care.” share, and maximise benefits from different health fused data components. Therefore, the ability to transform extraordinary amounts of data into rich and meaningful insights. Developing such a healthcare map permits the most precise view of our healthcare system. For instance, performing disease surveillance and signal detection, predicting risk/ risk management, targeting treatment interventions, understanding disease, etc. [as healthcare becomes more digital, it will decode biology. This is the future of medicine]. So, how will we get there? Health is a political choice and political will is imperative. Herein are a few key recommendations. • Healthcare research underpins every advance in healthcare and quality medical services • Evidence-based research is a critical tool to aid policy- and decision-makers


PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

AI and other complementing precision medicine tools will continue to power R&D data for the foreseeable future. Additionally, they will speed up drug discovery and development. A case in point is Insilico Medicine, a UAE-based AI-powered biotechnology company. These efforts will enhance the probability of finding novel drugs or first-inclass medicines. Another example is ABI in Qatar, focusing on biomarker discovery, patients’ drug response and monitoring, and health data fusion. Moreover, the diagnosis, prediction of illness, and early warning system will be enhanced at the population level, with an inclination towards disease prevention over disease treatment – accordingly, a track en route for lifestyle medicine (wellness). Further, it will extend to digital twins of human beings or organs, which is a virtual model of a physical entity that dynamically pairs the physical and digital domains, hence driving the transformation of EHRs and EMRs, and delivering highly personalised treatments, interventions, and clinical trial matching, refining patient management/care. Yet another beneficiary is reimagining pharma/biotech production and manufacturing in terms of scale, quality, and safety. A day will come, perhaps very soon, when genomics labs or other omics will have largescale, population applications (very high accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity), and are embedded in primary clinics much like molecular diagnostics nowadays. Finally, personal health history – the key to our health – is in our blood; one drop will tell it all. Customisable precision medicine offers the remarkable promise of next-generation (digital) medicine for truly patient-centric care.

Special thanks to Dr. M Walid Qoronfleh for his guest contribution. Interested in contributing? Email for more information.


THE PHARMACOGENOMIC REVOLUTION: WHERE PHARMACISTS CONDUCT THE SYMPHONY OF PERSONALISED MEDICINE The dawn of personalised medicine has arrived, and pharmacists stand at the forefront, wielding the powerful tool of pharmacogenomics (PGx). This field unlocks the secrets of our genes, guiding us towards optimal medication choices and minimising adverse reactions. Pharmacists, with their deep understanding of drugs and unwavering dedication to patient care, are poised to revolutionise healthcare. BY MOHAMED NAGY Pharmacy Director & Head of Personalized Medication Management, C h i l d r e n’s C a n c e r H o s p i t a l E g y p t 5 7 3 5 7 (C C H E ) Deputy for ME A region, Global PGx Committee, Pharmacogenomics Global Research Network (PGRN)

Gx is the marriage of pharmacology and genetics, a dance between the science of how drugs work and the language of our genetic blueprint. It unveils how individual gene variations influence our medication response, predicting who will thrive on a particular drug and who might suffer adverse reactions. Imagine a world where medications are no longer one-size-fits-all but meticulously crafted to orchestrate a harmonious symphony within each patient’s body. This is the future PGx promises, and pharmacists are the maestros poised to conduct it. But what makes pharmacists the ideal conductors of this transformative movement? Deep knowledge of drugs: Pharmacists are drug experts intimately familiar with their mechanisms of action, interactions, and potential side effects. This expertise lays the foundation for understanding how PGx can influence these factors and personalise treatment plans. Accessibility and patient trust: As the most accessible healthcare professionals, pharmacists enjoy a special bond with their patients. They are the confidantes, the educators, and the tireless advocates, earning trust through personalised care and unwavering dedication. This unique relationship positions them to effectively explain PGx and guide patients through this journey of personalised medicine.


PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


Clinical acumen and analytical skills: Pharmacists are trained to assess medication regimens, identify potential problems, and optimise treatments. They possess the analytical skills necessary to interpret PGx test results, weigh them against other clinical factors, and translate them into actionable insights for individual patients. Collaborative spirit: PGx integration requires a concerted effort from healthcare professionals. Pharmacists are natural collaborators, adept at working with physicians, nurses, geneticists, and other specialists to build a seamless personalised medicine ecosystem. However, the path to a PGx-driven future is not without its challenges. Awareness and knowledge: Many healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, need further education and training to fully grasp the potential of PGx. Integrating this new knowledge into existing workflows and clinical decision-making processes requires proactive initiatives and ongoing support. Accessibility and affordability: PGx testing needs to become more readily available and affordable for all patients, regardless of socioeconomic background. This requires policy changes, insurance coverage reforms, and innovative technological solutions to bridge the existing gaps. Data integration and interpretation: The sheer volume of genetic data generated by PGx testing necessitates robust data management systems and skilled professionals who can interpret this complex information and translate it into actionable clinical recommendations. These challenges are not impossible. With commitment, collaboration, and continuous innovation, pharmacists can overcome these hurdles and lead the charge toward a future where personalised medicine is no longer a dream but a tangible reality. Here is how pharmacists can take centre stage in the PGx revolution. Championing PGx education and training: Actively advocate for incorporating PGx into pharmacy school curricula and continuing education programs, ensuring all pharmacists are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills. Leading by example: Early adopters can integrate PGx into their existing practice, showcasing its value to both patients and healthcare providers. Sharing success stories and best practices can inspire wider adoption across the profession. Collaborating with stakeholders: Forming partnerships with other healthcare professionals, geneticists, and technology companies can accelerate the development and implementation of PGx solutions, promoting seamless integration into clinical workflows. Advocating for policy changes: Engaging with policymakers and regulatory bodies to push for wider

Pharmacists, with their unique blend of expertise, accessibility, and collaborative spirit, are poised to become the conductors of this transformative symphony.” PGx coverage by insurance companies and promote its accessibility for all patients. Investing in research and development: Supporting research initiatives to advance PGx technology, expand the range of drugs with actionable genetic variants, and refi ne data interpretation algorithms. Pharmacists, with their unique blend of expertise, accessibility, and collaborative spirit, are poised to become the conductors of this transformative symphony. By embracing PGx and overcoming the existing challenges, pharmacists can ensure that every patient receives a medication that resonates with their unique genetic melody, creating a harmonious healthcare experience for all. The dawn of personalised medicine has arrived, and pharmacists stand at the forefront, wielding the powerful tool of pharmacogenomics (PGx). This field unlocks the secrets of our genes, guiding us towards optimal medication choices and minimising adverse reactions. Pharmacists, with their deep understanding of drugs and unwavering dedication to patient care, are poised to revolutionise healthcare. Imagine a world where: • Medications are tailor-made for your unique genetic makeup, ensuring maximum efficacy and minimising side effects. • Pharmacists, empowered by PGx knowledge, become your trusted partners in navigating the complex landscape of medications. • Adverse reactions become a thing of the past, replaced by personalised treatment plans that work in harmony with your body. This is the future that PGx promises, and pharmacists are the key to unlocking it. So, let the music begin! Let the pharmacists take their rightful place at the forefront of personalised medicine, wielding the power of PGx to orchestrate a symphony of health and well-being for every individual. The future of healthcare awaits, and the pharmacists are ready to conduct. Special thanks to Mohamed Nagy for his guest contribution.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



METABOLOMICS: AN OBJECTIVE LENS TO PRECISION MEDICINE A growing field within precision medicine, metabolomics involves the exploration of the range of biochemicals that exist across cells, tissues, and fluids in the body. BY PROFESSOR SAM SHAH C h i e f M e d i c a l S t r a t e g y O f f i c e r, N u m a n A d v i s o r y B o a r d M e m b e r, S i l v e r B u c k U n i t e d K i n g d o m

ost people will be familiar with the concept of metabolism; it’s the exploration of this at a global level that gives rise to metabolomics. Many scientists and clinicians have recognised the immense potential this field could have on the way we deliver proactive clinical care. For hundreds of years, different cells, tissues, and fluids have been examined by physicians to understand an individual’s health status; this is fundamental to metabolomics. In many ways, an individual’s metabolic state is a type of signature that reflects their genome; the metabolic state changes in response to environmental factors, microbiome, and dietary intake. Historically, a very small number of metabolites have been used in clinical settings to diagnose metabolic diseases. Metabolomic technologies are able to go much further than standard clinical chemistry techniques, offering the possibility of precise analyses of thousands of metabolites. Metabolomics provides the opportunity to establish metabolic phenotypes supporting precision medicine in a number of ways, including the identification of metabolic derangements causing certain diseases, the discovery of new therapeutic targets, and unearthing of biomarkers that may be used to diagnose disease or even monitor the progress of therapeutics.

METABOLOMICS: THE ANALY TICAL CHALLENGE Metabolomics presents a significant analytical challenge because, unlike genomic and proteomic methods, it aims to measure molecules that have very different physical properties. For example, the molecules will vary from those being very water-soluble all the way through to nonpolar lipids. This poses a practical challenge that is not really presented with other methods, which is a driver for new technologies. Metabolomic technology platforms generally divide the metabolome into subsets of metabolites. Sample preparation and analytical procedures are optimised for each subset, resulting in a variety of results that utilise a range of analytical methods.


Arguably, this itself is a product of innovation in this field, but it does mean that each laboratory will end up with its own unique approach. The absence of standing operating procedures between laboratories means that comparability of results is more difficult. Identification of metabolites is also challenging, as each laboratory can identify different subsets of metabolites, not all of which will overlap. As well as improving the technology, scientists and clinicians are constantly learning about what makes up the metabolome. It is estimated that the entire complement of small molecules that may be expected to be found in a human is greater than 19,000. This includes both metabolites that are directly linked to endogenous enzymatic activities and also those derived from medication, food, and the environment. Metabolomics could be considered an objective perspective surrounding the relationship between physiology, external stimuli, and responses associated with disease. Metabolites are sometimes thought of as proximal reporters of disease, in part due to their relative abundance in biological specimens directly related to pathogenesis. This concept is routinely demonstrated in clinical chemistry laboratory results. The current process of identification of a disease marker, clinical trial evaluation, and then the development of a clinical test can take more than 10 years. Current metabolomics technologies can enable more rapid discovery and validation of metabolic indicators of disease. Metabolomics studies have also driven work revealing novel insights into relationships between diet and disease. Following the discovery of metabolic indicators of disease, it can be much more straightforward to create specific assays for metabolites of interest to enable follow-up studies. With a global focus on chronic diseases, such as obesity, the ongoing growth of metabolomics becomes even more imperative as there is an opportunity to create technology that could support proactive care and result in significantly improved outcomes for individuals. Special thanks to Prof. Sam Shah for his guest contribution.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


ABU DHABI: A FINGER ON THE PULSE OF HEALTHCARE AND LIFE SCIENCE INNOVATION The Technology Innovation Institute (TII) is a leading global research centre dedicated to pushing the frontiers of knowledge. Here’s more on the organisation and why Abu Dhabi is positioned as a preferred hub for innovative healthcare. BY DR. THOMAS L AUNE Y C h i e f R e s e a r c h e r, B i o t e c h n o l o g y R e s e a r c h C e n t e r, Te c h n o l o g y I n n o v a t i o n I n s t i t u t e ( T I I )

ecent years have witnessed major progress in the development of the healthcare and life sciences (HLS) sector in the UAE. Fuelled by concerted efforts from academia, clinical entities, private and public research, and a long-term strategic vision from leadership, the HLS ecosystem is experiencing rapid growth in workforce, investment, and innovation. The HLS sector’s development in the UAE is driven by strong and sustained government investment, a focus on homegrown cutting-edge technologies, and a strategic commitment to nurture talents in both fundamental and translational research. The UAE has the highest healthcare spending growth rate in the GCC, with a projected outlay of $30.7 billion (AED 112.6 bn) by 2027 and is rising at a compound annual growth rate of 7.4%, according to a report by Alpen Capital. This positions the UAE well to address the challenge of an ageing population but also as a regional healthcare hub and as a centre of excellence for HLS innovation. Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) participates in this effort by driving innovation at the junction between academic research and industry. This ensures that leading discoveries are rapidly translated into innovations and products that impact both the economy and the population’s wellbeing.

WHAT DIFFERENTIATES ABU DHABI AS A PREFERRED HUB FOR INNOVATIVE HEALTHCARE? In line with the government-led roadmap, the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, the UAE capital purposefully commenced its journey of diversification away from oil as a mainstay some two decades ago. Vision 2030 has been prioritising the


development and strengthening of the healthcare system, to ensure that patients will have affordable access to advanced preventative care and, when necessary, to the best personalised therapy. For entities conducting cutting-edge research in Abu Dhabi, this has facilitated an increased focus on genome research and gene therapy, on AI-powered diagnostics and therapeutic digital assistants, on regenerative medicine including 3D-printed organs and prosthetics, on secure and efficient telemedicine and, increasingly, on building the foundations of a sovereign HLS ecosystem. Dedicated innovation hubs like Hub71 and Masdar City served as forerunners in nurturing tech startups and shaping an ecosystem where healthcare and technology converge to create lifechanging solutions through sustained and focalised investments. In that respect, COVID-19 proved to be a revelation for the world when Abu Dhabi stepped up to pioneer human vaccine trials. Still, in this pharmaceuticals market, the import/export balance remains near the 10-to-1 mark, highlighting the potential for growth and for reaching sovereignty in pharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing. The call for a concerted effort of all stakeholders, embodied in Vision 2030, is to ensure that this type of success does not remain a “one-off” and that agile innovation and resiliency become integral components of Abu Dhabi’s HLS ecosystem.

A FOCUS ON SYNERGY Championing homegrown innovation does not mean doing it in isolation, however, and the UAE has a strong tradition of attracting international talents, in research, in entrepreneurship, and in IP creation. The Technology Innovation Institute (TII) – the applied R&D arm of ATRC – has more than a thousand researchers and support personnel, from more than 80 countries, developing solutions and products that support national industries. The

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


recent creation of a Biotechnology Research Center is a clear sign of ATRC’s commitment to extend this successful model to the HLS sector, with an impact in healthtech, in drug discovery and manufacturing, in medical devices, and generally in innovations that lead to a longer and healthier life. The TII innovation model strongly favours the creation of national and international partnerships with key players at the forefront of research, to bootstrap translation into locally actionable IP. In slightly over a year of existence, TII’s biotech team has built partnerships and collaborations with leading academic and industrial entities over five continents, guaranteeing access to the established experts and to the most innovative talents with an entrepreneurship mindset. This additionally builds upon the UAE strong historical position as a bridge between continents and as a crossroad of knowledge exchange and crosscultural partnerships for ideas, for culture and for commerce. A notable key ingredient in the budding HLS sector’s successes is the tight interaction between fundamental research and clinical entities. Recent decades have seen an acceleration in quickly translating the discoveries at a molecular level into a long list of

“The HLS ecosystem is experiencing rapid growth in workforce, investment, and innovation.”

therapeutic applications that include breakthroughs in immunology, in cell and gene therapies, in pharmacogenomics, in new treatments for cancer, and in promoting wellness and longevity. Major clinical entities in Abu Dhabi are well positioned to build efficient partnerships with academic research and with the translational R&D approach embodied by the TII.

A SUCCESSFUL FUTURE At the TII, our team of biotechnology scientists and engineers are actively involved in identifying potential solutions for current and emerging healthcare challenges, in collaboration with local and international universities and research centres. Our mandate covers a broad scope of health-related fields; in medical imaging, in wearable and IoMT technology, in computational disease modelling and drug design, in high-throughput drug discovery and testing, and in omics-based disease risk prediction. Like all TII teams, we benefit tremendously from the high-level expertise present in other TII centres, whether it be developing specialty lasers for biology, securing patient data exchanges with advanced cryptography, or designing innovative polymers as biomaterials, to name a few. Our common goal at TII is to develop solutions that are socially and economically relevant for Abu Dhabi, by contributing to an emerging advanced technology ecosystem. For biotech, this means creating and securing the intellectual property in healthcare and agritech that will directly translate into spin-offs, startups, and attract new ventures in the UAE, ultimately leading to multiple benefits for the population. We are still at the start of the journey, but the energy and commitment that we can all witness in the Abu Dhabi HLS sector bodes well for its future and for the many successes to come. Learn more at Special thanks to Dr. Thomas Launey for his guest contribution.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


T E C H S P O T L I G H T: L I F E S P I N

The dawn of the digital twin in precision medicine In today’s dynamic healthcare landscape, Lifespin GmbH stands at the forefront of innovation, championing the creation of digital twins for patients. icture a world where a simple blood sample from you gives birth to a detailed digital counterpart – a ‘twin’ that offers profound insights into your health. This is the future of precision medicine that we at Lifespin GmbH are sculpting. Our method, as described by Dr. Ali Tinazli, CEO of Lifespin, employs AI-enhanced metabolomic measurements from blood to craft these digital replicas. This transformative approach is a convergence of biology, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and cloud technology. It’s not merely about setting new benchmarks in established medical sectors, like cancer diagnostics, but it’s also an expedition into previously less explored areas, including certain neurological conditions. Every disease leaves its unique fingerprint or ‘deviation’ in our metabolomes – the intricate ensemble of metabolites within



our bodies. Lifespin’s state-of-the-art platform captures these individual metabolomes, thereby allowing the precise analysis of hundreds of metabolite concentrations via a single NMR measurement. This is where the traditional analog blood samples evolve to their digital, cutting-edge counterparts, offering precise health diagnostics. The fusion of detection technology and artificial intelligence crafts this detailed metabolic modality of the digital twin. Our vast, ever-evolving database, containing over 220,000 human datasets – from benchmarks of healthy individuals to a repertoire of over 300 diseases – enables these datasets to transition into digital twins. This data revolutionises the realm of diagnosis, facilitating early disease detection, treatment monitoring, and truly individualised medicine. Only last year, Lifespin introduced tools that are redefi ning everything from

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

T E C H S P O T L I G H T: L I F E S P I N

general health assessments to specialised drug monitoring for conditions such as epilepsy. Drawing a parallel with genomics, Dr. Tinazli offered insights: “In genomics, there’s often a challenge of navigating through silent mutations – variations that might not always correlate with a disease but act as mere noise. This noise sometimes necessitates vast patient samples, ballooning the costs. Think of genomics as an elephant in a dark room. Everyone touches and describes different parts. Metabolomics, in contrast, flips the switch, illuminating the entire room.” While genomics sketches potential health scenarios, metabolism delivers the current snapshot. The cascading effects of genomic variations eventually manifest in metabolic shifts. Metabolomics, with Lifespin at its helm, captures these tangible changes, rooted in the unyielding principles of thermodynamics. This precision leads to a more streamlined research process requiring fewer patient samples. Dr. Tinazli further emphasised Lifespin GmbH’s clear vision: “We aim to advance global health through precision health. Our mission is to digitise patient samples locally, leveraging the cloud to generate precision health insights globally. In doing so, we seamlessly bridge the gap between precision medicine and economic efficiency, ushering in a transformative era in healthcare.”

He concluded: “Health information isn’t merely data – it’s the driving force shaping the economies of the future.” As Lifespin continues its pioneering journey, the horizon of medicine glimmers with the promise of a healthcare system tailored for each individual. Learn more at

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


T E C H S P O T L I G H T: M G I

How MGI is unleashing the power of precision medicine MGI, a Shenzhen-based biotechnology company, is committed to building lifescience tools through intelligent innovation.


hroughout history, healthcare has been driven by one overarching goal: to develop treatments that are more accurate and effective for everyone. In today’s world, the combination of advanced genetic sequencing, big-data analytics and fast supercomputing is helping healthcare professionals refi ne and individualise treatments. Known as precision or personalised) medicine, this advanced technology delivers a highly specific treatment suited to every individual patient. Healthcare professionals now know that the genetics of a person and its interaction with the environment is responsible for almost all the diseases and health disorders. Therefore, relying on a one-approach-fits-all mentality could be counterproductive in providing truly effective treatment to people. That is where precision medicine comes in. At its core, precision medicine recognises that while two people might share the same disease, one might respond to a particular treatment differently than the other based on their genetic and biological make-up. At the forefront of this technology is MGI, a Shenzhen-based


company committed to building life-science tools through intelligent innovation. With the latest sequencing technology* and state-of-the-art automation products, MGI looks to harness the vast pool of genetic information to advance precision medicine, empowering the healthcare industry to make better-informed decisions that boost patient outcomes.

UNLOCKING THE POTENTIAL OF HUMAN GENOMICS With the constant innovation in sequencing technologies, the process of decoding a single genome, which cost over $3.8 billion 22 years ago and took 13 years to complete, can now be done in just a day for only US$500. Today’s next-generation technologies afford the simultaneous sequencing of multiple genes at an unmatched speed and accuracy, helping healthcare professionals provide the right treatment to patients at the right time. Looking at the benefits precision medicine brings, many countries such as the United States, Singapore, France, and the

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

T E C H S P O T L I G H T: M G I

United Arab Emirates have launched nationwide endeavours to map the genomes of their citizens. MGI’s population scale sequencing technology* has been leveraged successfully in several national genome programs around the world to support the governments’ aim to pioneer a medical system for predictive, preventive, and personalised treatment. Additionally, MGI’s involvement has been crucial to the progress of the “Million Microbiome of Humans Project”, launched in 2019 at the 14th International Conference on Genomics, which took place in Shenzhen. The project gathers scientists from all over the world to sequence and analyse one million intestinal, oral, skin, and reproductive-tract samples, with MGI’s sequencing platform* supporting the international scientific endeavour. The project intends to build the largest human microbiome database ever, which will provide vital insights into formulating improved diagnostic and treatment methods for precision medicine.

ADVANCING PRECISION MEDICINE IN ONCOLOGY & BEYOND Being one of the few companies in the world, which have the ability to independently develop and mass-produce clinical high-throughput gene sequencers, MGI has empowered the global precision-medicine industry for many years with its key sequencing technologies*. In particular, thanks to the efficiency of MGI’s sequencing machines such as DNBSEQ-G400 and DNBSEQ-T7 high-throughput sequencers*, Beijing-based GrandOmics, a company specialising in third-generation sequencing, was able to expand its product portfolio in sequencing services and precision medicine. In another example, MGI’s array of highly accurate, costeffective, and flexible sequencing technology* was critical in enhancing the cardiovascular testing services of Anngeen Technologies, a biotechnology company based in Beijing that utilises gene sequencing for clinical diagnosis. Furthermore, MGI’s devices have also been central to the fight against infectious diseases such as COVID-19, where patient samples have to be tested as quickly and as accurately as possible to curb the spread of the virus. Apart from its sequencing technology*, MGI’s fleet of automation systems and robotic ultrasound products are also making waves in the precision-medicine industry. Driven by the need for large-scale testing, MGI’s laboratory automation system ensures that genome sequencing runs as seamlessly as possible to generate results rapidly. When it comes to saving lives, time is often a critical factor. Patients staying far away from city centres where major healthcare institutions are typically located could benefit from MGI’s robotic ultrasound devices that provide remote health screening. Apart from saving travel time and improving accessibility to diagnostic resources, MGI’s ultrasonic screening

devices also transform the telemedicine experience. While conventional telemedicine consultation methods are limited to audio and visual interactions, physicians using MGI’s innovative device can also harness the properties of ultrasonic waves to examine patients even more accurately. With its latest ultrasound-based technology*, MGI plays a pivotal role in promoting cancer prevention and early treatment, which could vastly improve the prognosis of patients.

COMMITMENT TO COLLABORATION Equipped with a comprehensive suite of gene technologies and products, MGI is committed to advancing precision medicine on all fronts through innovation and collaboration. In an effort to bring a simplified and easy-to-operate sequencing workflow to market, MGI has recently partnered with Singapore-based Nalagenetics, a biotechnology company focusing on affordable personalised screening and intervention. Working together, both companies share the same goal of lowering the technical knowledge and fi nancial requirements of local healthcare institutions to fast adopt cutting-edge technology. Collaborating extensively with all stakeholders within the healthcare ecosystem, MGI continues to innovate at the forefront of gene sequencing to break down the technical barriers of previous technologies, while accelerating the development of precision medicine to benefit diverse members of our societies. Learn more at *Unless otherwise informed, StandardMPS and CoolMPS sequencing reagents, and sequencers for use with such reagents are not available in Germany, USA, Spain, UK, Hong Kong, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Portugal and Austria. HotMPS sequencing reagents and sequencers for use with such reagents are only available in selected countries.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


T E C H S P O T L I G H T: G E N O M E A R C

Automation in genomic variant classification to enable precision diagnosis Discover how GenomeArc’s innovative platform, Horizon, seamlessly integrates data integration and automation, revolutionising precision medicine.


he field of genomics has been growing at an unprecedented speed, with emerging genome projects and clinical whole-genome (WGS) and whole-exome sequencing (WES) generating larger amounts of data than ever before.

Genetic variant interpretation is a critical process in genomics for clinical diagnosis, therapeutics, and research. It plays a pivotal role in understanding the genetic basis of diseases, identifying potential therapeutic targets, and informing personalised medicine. Data integration and automation have become indispensable in this field. The sheer volume and complexity of genetic data make it impossible for manual analysis alone to keep pace with clinical

genetic diagnosis. Integration of diverse data sources, such as clinical symptoms, rare disease or pan-cancer genomics data, and population-level data, enables a more comprehensive assessment of variants. Automation, powered by advanced algorithms (language models, machine learning), not only accelerates the interpretation process but also enhances its accuracy. Together, data integration and automation are instrumental in advancing our understanding of genetics and improving patient care through more precise diagnostics and treatments. Here at GenomeArc, we have implemented these different aspects of clinical genomics into an intuitive platform, called “Horizon” to make precision medicine a reality. We’ve intertwined



PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

T E C H S P O T L I G H T: G E N O M E A R C


phenotype, genotype, and different variant analyses to acquire a personalised profile of each patient.

FAST, ACCURATE & VALIDATED VARIANT CLASSIFICATION Although the primary and secondary analyses are standardised, with the main bottleneck in genomics occurring in the tertiary part: variant classification and interpretation based on functional annotation of variants. Interpretation demands time, effort, and expertise, not to mention incurring costs for both staff and patients. Clinical genetic tests produce a substantial number of variants, and Horizon can classify pathogenicity according to the guidelines by the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) in five minutes for WES. The platform utilises large-scale proprietary databases, and the accuracy of classifying variant pathogenicity has been validated across multiple cohorts representing different ethnicities. GenomeArc’s Horizon platform integrates phenotypic symptoms through language models to identify Human Phenotype Ontology (HPO) terms. It enables gene panel analysis, carrier screening, automated reporting, and seamless integration with third-party clinical software. Horizon stands as an equitable, intuitive, and lifesaving software, significantly impacting the lives of patients affected by rare diseases or cancer. Email or learn more at

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


T E C H S P O T L I G H T: M Y E N G E N E

Mitigating adverse drug reactions through technology: The revolutionary role of MyEngene in personalised medicine Exploring the role of MyEngene and the importance of technology in mitigating ADRs and the advancements it brings to precision medicine. BY TRENT MARX CHAIRMAN & CEO, M Y ENGENE

Adverse Drug Reactions (ADRs) represent a significant concern for global public health and patient safety. As medical advancements continue to evolve, technology has emerged as a crucial tool in identifying, predicting, and tackling ADRs. Here, we explore the role of MyEngene, emphasising the importance of technology in mitigating ADRs and the advancements it brings to precision medicine. Since the groundbreaking discovery of the DNA structure by Watson, Crick, Wilkins and Franklin in 1953, and the deciphering of the primary DNA sequence in 2001, we have entered a new era of healthcare that was previously unimaginable. Today, we have the incredible capability to provide personalised drug recommendations to both the patient and the treating physician, determining the suitability of drugs for a patient’s unique needs and identifying any necessary alterations. Why is this revolutionary advancement so important? It holds



great significance due to the high costs associated with ADRs. ADRs contribute an average cost of $74,000 USD per event, resulting in a staggering annual cost of $136 billion in the USA and a tenth of that in Canada. Consider the following statistics:


Annual ADR events

Annual Deaths

$136bn in USA

2.74m serious ADRs in USA ~128,000 the USA

$13bn in Canada

200,000 in Canada

Europe ~197,000

With over 30 million Americans having experienced an ADR event in the past, and almost half of the population currently

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

T E C H S P O T L I G H T: M Y E N G E N E

taking two or more drugs, the need to address this problem is more pressing than ever. Even when the consumption of a drug poses no risk for an ADR, their efficacy depends on the patient’s DNA. The question arises: Why and how can we tackle this problem now? Recent technological advancements have made whole genome sequencing (WGS) both accessible and affordable. Previously, the cost of WGS exceeded $2,000, but today it is four times less expensive, thanks to improvements in both the DNA sequencing and auxiliary technology, such as GPU processors and data centres capable of processing massive amounts of data. Affordability is a crucial factor to consider. Calculating the return on investment (ROI) for the government at the current cost of obtaining an ADR report along with WGS (30x coverage), the payback period can be as short as 1.54 years. Let’s consider the example of Texas. With approximately 9% of the US population, addressing ADRs in Texas would require an estimated investment of $18.8 billion (9% of the US annual total of $136 billion). Currently, the estimated annual cost of ADRs in Texas is $12.2 billion. According to this analysis, the ROI would be achieved in 1.54 years, resolving the problem permanently. Additionally, implementing WGS presents numerous other benefits for improving our health, without the need for repeated testing. These numbers demonstrate the potential benefits and costsavings that can be achieved by leveraging technology to address ADRs. By investing in personalised drug recommendations and utilising WGS, we can significantly reduce the burden of ADRs on individuals, healthcare systems, and economies.

OTHER BENEFITS OF WGS INCLUDE: 1. Disease Risk Assessment: WGS can provide valuable insights into an individual’s genetic predisposition to certain diseases. By identifying genetic variants, we can identify an increased risk of developing various conditions, including cardiovascular diseases, certain types of cancer, and hereditary disorders. 2. Early Disease Detection and Prevention: WGS can aid in the early detection of certain diseases, even before symptoms appear by identifying genetic markers associated with specific conditions.

3. Personalised Medicine: WGS plays a central role in the field of personalised medicine. It enables healthcare providers to develop personalised treatment plans based on an individual’s unique genetic profile.

ADDRESSING ADVERSE DRUG REACTIONS IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT FOR THE FOLLOWING: 1. Patient safety 2. Public health 3. Cost reduction 4. Pharmacovigilance and surveillance systems 5. Quality control of pharmaceuticals 6. Risk assessment 7. Patient trust and compliance The fusion of technology and genomics offers us an unprecedented opportunity to improve drug safety and efficacy. By harnessing these advancements, we can tackle the ADR problem head-on, leading to better healthcare outcomes and substantial cost savings. The time to tackle this issue is now, and the potential rewards are enormous. Technology stands as a crucial ally in addressing adverse drug reactions and improving patient safety. From early identification and monitoring to personalised medicine and improved clinical trials, technology empowers healthcare professionals to mitigate the risks of ADRs more effectively. Embracing and integrating these advancements will undoubtedly strengthen the field of Personalized Medicine, leading to safer and more personalised healthcare for individuals worldwide. In conclusion, MyEngene represents a significant advancement in leveraging technology to address adverse drug reactions. By integrating whole genome sequencing, global clinical evidence, and regulatory guidelines, MyEngene provides individuals and doctors with personalised reports designed to guide drug decision-making. The platform ensures accuracy, reliability, and effectiveness. As technology continues to evolve, platforms like MyEngene have the potential to revolutionise the way we approach drugrelated adverse events, enabling safer and more personalised healthcare for individuals worldwide. Visit MyEngene at Booth D13 at PrecisionMed Exhibition & Summit UAE 24. Learn more at

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


T E C H S P O T L I G H T: A M O Y D I A G N O S T I C S

Making complex NGS testing “Easy to Handle” At the forefront of precision oncology, Amoy Diagnostics (AmoyDx) pioneers molecular diagnostics, specialising in companion diagnostics. Through precise molecular insights, the company empowers cancer care teams to craft personalised treatment strategies and accelerate the development of transformative therapeutics, leaving a lasting impact on patients’ lives. moy Diagnostics Co., Ltd. (AmoyDx) stands as a pioneer and global leader in the realm of molecular diagnostics for precision oncology, concentrating on the development and commercialisation of companion diagnostics. Through the delivery of accurate and actionable molecular insights, we swiftly empower members of cancer care teams to chart confident, personalised treatment roadmaps for patients with cancer. Simultaneously, we support pharmaceutical companies in expediting the development of life-changing therapeutics that leave a profound impact on patients’ lives. Our proprietary technologies – including ADx-ARMS®, Super-ARMS®, ddCapture®, ADx-HANDLE®, and the ADxGSS algorithm – offer reliable, decentralised diagnostic tests characterised by a fast turnaround time. These tests serve to empower healthcare providers and patients alike with actionable insights, facilitating the selection of treatment strategies for optimised cancer care. Notably, over twenty AmoyDx PCR or NGS diagnostic kits have received approvals from regulatory authorities such as China NMPA, EU, Japan MHLW, South Korea MFDS, among others. AmoyDx® HANDLE technology, a proprietary amplicon-based approach for NGS library preparation, presents a time-saving



and cost-effective protocol. Completable within 5 hours, with approximately 1 hour of hands-on time, this technology uniquely tags each individual DNA molecule with a unique molecular index (UMI) at both ends. This design ensures high sensitivity in variant detection by eliminating biases introduced during library amplification and sequencing. Learn more at

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

Breaking Barriers To Precision Oncology

Making Complex NGS Testing

Visit us at Booth #. C14

T E C H S P O T L I G H T: G U L F S C I E N T I F I C C O R P O R A T I O N

Gulf Scientific Corporation: The SYNTAX STX-200 system The DNA Script SYNTAX Platform, Model STX-200, can be configured to protect sequence privacy and the integrity of proprietary projects. ioPharma companies are concerned about protecting the confidentiality of their IPsensitive projects. This is particularly important when working on gene fragments or plasmids where sequence-only information allows one to understand the scope of a project in much detail. As a result, outsourcing the synthesis of oligos or gene fragments to service providers brings a high risk of IP loss. Consequently, inhouse synthesis is trending to become the most reliable and safe solution in this regard. The DNA Script SYNTAX Platform, Model STX-200, can be configured to protect sequence privacy and the integrity of proprietary projects. If the regular, cloud-based console software is considered to be risky, it is available as an “on-premises” version. In this option, it is hosted on a standalone computer behind the company’s fi rewall – or operated completely disconnected from the internet. DNA Script says its product is the first DNA Printer powered by enzymatic DNA Synthesis (EDS) technology. It enables ondemand synthesis of custom DNA oligos in a benchtop solution. Designed for speed, convenience, flexibility, and ease of use, SYNTAX enables users to create custom oligos in the laboratory without the need for specialised infrastructure or technical skills. Printing DNA oligos on-site allows for greater control



over workflows, sequencing information, and security, and mitigates delays and other logistical challenges from thirdparty manufacturing. DNA Script says this facilitates efficiency in productivity, more predictable project schedules, and fewer hidden costs to accelerate the pace of innovation and fuel discoveries. The SYNTAX Platform includes a fully integrated benchtop DNA printer, reagent and consumable kits, and management software. With no more than 15-30 minutes of setup required, it can synthesise 96 labelled or unlabeled oligos in parallel. The 96 unlabeled oligos of 20 nucleotides in length are processed in approximately 6 hours; and up to 120-mers in approximately 23,5 hours. This capability, combined with the ability to schedule automated synthesis runs, which can be performed unattended overnight, enables multiple rounds of synthesis in a 24-hour period – ideal for rapid optimization of oligo design. Upon synthesis completion, the SYNTAX Platform purifies, quantifies, and normalises the oligos so they can be used seamlessly in the next step of a research workflow. The platform monitors reagent levels and enables an integrated process meaning researchers can manage DNA print runs, reagents, and results. DNA Script SYNTAX Platform is designed for ease of use with simple configuration allowing the user to maintain control of processes with the luxury of fast turnaround times. It is very easy to handle for end users in the lab because there is no need to deal with harsh chemicals – or isolate the reactions from the open air. Some customers have said that making synthetic DNA is around 10 to 30 times less impactful for the environment.




The SYNTAX Platform carries out the template-free Enzymatic DNA Synthesis (EDS) by adding nucleotides to a pre-made strand of initiator DNA (iDNA) bound to a solid support. The iDNA strand includes a cleavage site that is used to liberate the oligo from the solid support after synthesis completes. Oligos are liberated from the support, and salts and other low molecular weight molecules are removed. The Platform includes an integrated spectrophotometer that allows quantification and onboard normalisation of oligo concentration (see Figure 2A). It employs a cyclic two-step process to enable the on-demand synthesis of custom DNA oligos without the need for specialised infrastructure or technical skills: step 1 is for elongation, and step 2 is for deprotection. Then steps 1 & 2 are repeated until the longest oligonucleotide on the plate is completed. Today, chemical DNA synthesis (CDS)

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

T E C H S P O T L I G H T: G U L F S C I E N T I F I C C O R P O R A T I O N

Figure 1: DNA Script SYNTAX offer positioned in the competitive landscape. Figure 2: A) Enzymatic DNA Synthesis (EDS) process and B) Chemical DNA Synthesis (CDS) process. 3


Figure 3: Native phosphate group at the 5’ end of the oligo synthesised enzymatically. Figure 4: Nucleotide structures used in SYNTAX platform. Figure 5: Illustration of the paradigm shift from chemical DNA synthesis to benchtop enzymatic DNA synthesis. Figure 6: Timeline difference between the fully automated EDS SYNTAX STX200 and a standard CDS instrument and its full process to generate the same oligo lengths and numbers.

is conducted in centralised manufacturing facilities by a handful of companies or performed in-house with dedicated laboratories requiring several pieces of equipment and experienced chemists. DNA is synthesised on solid supports by passing reagents through columns. One base (A/G/C/T) is added per synthesis cycle. Each cycle comprises 4 steps: deblocking (detritylation), coupling, oxidation, and capping. After synthesis, the DNA is deprotected, cleaved from the solid support, desalted, RP-HPLC purified, and lyophilized (see Figure 2B).



• The chemical DNA synthesis generates oligos from 3’to 5’ with no terminal phosphate group on the 5’-end, whereas enzymatic DNA synthesis occurs as in nature, from the 5’-to3’ direction in a template-independent manner. • Unlike CDS approach A. T, C, G nucleotides used in SYNTAX System are only protected on 3’-0H with a reversible terminator group (amino-oxy O-NH2) that is easily removed by mild acidic conditions and enables the nature-like synthesis from 5’- to 3’-end. In addition, the EDS technology utilised in SYNTAX system liberates oligos recovering the natural 5’-phosphate. Therefore, EDS oligos are directly amenable to ligation steps, which is very valuable for ligation dependent applications such as gene assembly. • Synthesis of oligos using CDS has a compounding low efficiency in each cycle which reduces yields by 50% when longer oligos are synthesised (because of impurities at each step such as truncated capped oligos). • Each step of the CDS synthesis cycle can lead to errors 2. Overexposure to the deblocking reagent in the first step leads to basic sites, coupling activators can cause insertions while the capping step causes G-to-A transitions. Finally, phosphate deprotection releases acrylonitrile that forms adducts with nucleobases which can inhibit polymerase reactions in downstream applications. • The purity of the chemical synthesis reagents also impacts oligo composition2. For example, impurities in the deblocking reagent can lead to the formation of trichloroacetaldehyde on the 5’end. • Finally, poor material efficiency with only 36% atom economy is noticed in the chemical CDS process. 1

OLIGOS & DELIVERY TIME Users have two ways of obtaining oligonucleotides: either buying them from centralised oligo providers or relying on decentralised in-house factories managed by trained chemists (using CDS instruments). In both configurations, the turnaround time (TAT) is significantly increased compared to the use of an automated benchtop enzymatic DNA synthesis such as the SYNTAX Platform (see Figure 5). Users ordering from external providers can be impacted by all the supply chain risks associated with a hyper-centralised production organisation. The delivery time requires shipping which can, radically, increase the turnaround time e.g. it typically takes at least a few days to provide 96 oligos of 60mers long. Alternatively, synthesising oligos in-house using CDS, requires the use of several external instruments, the expertise of a chemist, strict anhydrous experimental conditions, and moreover, many manual steps during the entire workflow of the oligo synthesis. Indeed, synthesising oligos in-house by CDS may take between 1.5 to 3 times longer than using EDS technology (see Figure 6). Learn more at

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


T E C H S P O T L I G H T: R A N D O X

Randox Laboratories: Over 40 years of experience as a world leader in in-vitro diagnostics Randox’s unrivalled expertise and revolutionary solutions allow us to streamline testing while reducing costs without compromising performance. andox Laboratories boasts over 40 years’ experience as a world leader in the in-vitro diagnostics industry. Headquartered in Northern Ireland, Randox is a major exporter, with offices and distributors in over 145 countries worldwide. Our unrivalled expertise and revolutionary solutions allow us to streamline testing while reducing costs without compromising performance.


RANDOX BIOSCIENCES Randox Biosciences is dedicated to advancing scientific discovery, drug development and diagnostics. Spanning four key divisions: Life Sciences, Pharma Sciences, Research and Molecular; Randox Biosciences offers complete tailored solutions for clinical and research use. Our primary aim is to advance the future of personalised medicine approaches and assist Pharma, Biotechs and CROs to move away from a “One treatment fits all” approach.

BIOSCIENCES | BIOREAGENTS Randox Biosciences have been a world-leading primary manufacturer of high-quality antibodies, proteins and conjugates for over 40 years. Our team of scientists possess unrivalled expertise enabling us to provide you with a comprehensive suite of products and services dedicated to advancing research and testing within food, drugs of abuse and clinical settings. • All products manufactured at our ISO 13485 accredited UK site • Our antibodies have higher sensitivity and specificity

• Excellent reproducibility between lot numbers • Low lot to lot variability due to using sheep as host species. • Highly experienced in developing difficult targets (i.e. small molecules and novel biomarkers) • Full customisation service available

RANDOX CLINICAL LABORATORY SERVICES Randox Clinical Laboratory Services (RCLS) specialises in offering esoteric biomarker using our expertise in producing IVD diagnostics. Our multiplex panels offer a cost-effective, labour saving and time reducing solution for your sample testing. • Custom Development Services: Randox Biosciences dedicated custom unit develops and manufactures custom assay solutions. This also includes customised quality control sera and calibrators. Companion diagnostics (CDx) are part of the services that Randox Biosciences supply to pharmaceutical companies. With long recognised expertise in esoteric assay development and over 500 IVD products available globally, Randox is a partner of choice to support your CDx needs. By utilising our custom services, raw material supply and quality can be controlled to ensure optimum product results.

CDX & BIOPHARMA Randox Biosciences have unrivalled expertise in diagnostic and CDx assay development. Offering a wide range of inhouse capabilities ranging from the selection and patenting of novel biomarkers; manufacture of bioreagents; production of single and multiplex RUO and IVD grade tests; quality control;

Areas of expertise



Clinical Laboratory

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


T E C H S P O T L I G H T: R A N D O X



regulatory expertise and worldwide distribution. Randox Biosciences is dedicated to the improvement of personalised diagnostic, prognostic and predictive assays, aiming to help Pharma Biotechs and CROs gain a better understanding of the complexity and variability of diseases and increase the efficacy of treatment. A key element to realising the potential for personalised medicine is companion diagnostic (CDx) development.

Figure 1: CDx and Biopharma Figure 2: Randox Clinical Laboratory Services (RCLS) Figure 3: Olink Comprehensive Solutions Provider


RANDOX GENOMICS SERVICES Randox Genomics Services department is fitted with specialised, fully equipped, state of the art testing facilities, designed and set up to fulfil a unique range of end-to-end sequencing solutions inclusive of in-house bioinformaticians and data analysts. Our Services include: • Olink® - comprehensive Proteomic Solutions provider • Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) • Genotyping • Pharmacogenomics

OLINK COMPREHENSIVE SOLUTIONS PROVIDER As one of the UK’s first commercial partners of Olink PEA technology, Randox offer scientists involved in drug development, clinical, or basic life science research the service they need to run large-scale discovery proteomics. Randox offer customers access to the entire Olink protein library of ~3000 protein assays for exploratory proteomics and multiomics. Explore 3072 library includes biomarkers that contribute the most to key research questions and cover as many biological pathways and functions as possible, including organspecific proteins, exploratory proteins and established ongoing drug targets. Learn more at

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024


T E C H S P O T L I G H T: I N T E G R A T E D G U L F B I O S Y S T E M S

Precision medicine trespasses Into the clinic Precision Medicine is finally pushing its way into the clinic with brute force, says Integrated Gulf Biosystems.

recision medicine has spent the last decade in discovery and validation. Genetics has given way to genomics. This was painfully slow, despite the disruptive advancements in Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). The extensive research and validation of the NGS results, backed by exponential advances in bioinformatics, have now paved the path for truly translational efforts, changing the game in the way we treat patients with successful outcomes that we have never seen before. In an ideal world, precision medicine is meant to be used in prevention and treatment approaches for all health issues. We still have a long way to go. Its day-to-day application in most disease states is relatively limited. Despite this, in certain areas of medicine, such as oncology and reproductive health, precision medicine is already routinely put to use. Precision medicine focuses on three critical aspects that touch on prognosis, therapy, and screening. Despite all three being equally important, early-risk screening facilitates timely intervention and helps to prevent or delay the onset of many diseases as well as manage the condition better. The first is genomic testing, also referred to as molecular or genetic testing in the past, and simply focuses on identifying changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins that cause disease. The second aspect is a logical next step to the first. Having found disease-causing changes, efforts are on to design, devise, and deploy targeted therapies, which are drug treatments that interfere with specific molecular targets that are causing the given disease. The final one is to identify genomic markers, which are genetic elements that convey the risk information or likelihood of an individual acquiring a disease. The earlier aspects look for changes in a diseased condition while the final one focuses



on predisposition. This may also give some indication of the prognosis after the onset of a disease. The biggest bottlenecks that we face in precision medicine today, despite all the advances made, are the turnaround times and the prohibitive costs. These tests that began with months to produce results are now turning into weeks. Weeks will need to become days if we have to make an impact and save a patient who is already terminally ill. There is no doubt that this is bound to happen quite soon. The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the acquisition of one important learning. No technology is appropriate until it is democratised, and reaches all sections of society. The affordability of detection and therapeutics is a crucial element in early and universal adoption. The plunge in the costs of RTPCR testing, during the pandemic gave insight that scaling the numbers is key. The rapid development and deployment of vaccines were only possible due to the magnitude of numbers despite the financial burden. The above inference is what we need to enable in precision medicine. Otherwise, this will

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

Precision medicine is already routinely put to use in certain areas of healthcare, such as oncology and reproductive health.”

T E C H S P O T L I G H T: I N T E G R A T E D G U L F B I O S Y S T E M S

continue to benefit only a privileged few. The positive is that both turnaround time and costs are constantly reducing, yet the final destination is far away. There is also an early adoption of limited tests by insurance companies. The more tests covered, the more will precision medicine become more routine. The constant learning will translate to patients receiving more optimal treatments targeted to their disease, improving response, and decreasing side effects by limiting exposure to drugs that are not effective and getting the best dose for them based on their pharmacogenomic profile. Thus, patients will live longer with fewer complications from their treatments (e.g., including neuropathies, cardiac toxicity, and others). The ethical concerns surrounding genomic testing have been addressed to a great extent including misleading results and privacy issues.

The tremendous future value of genomics is clear and far clearer than for other emerging technologies. The countries that make aggressive investments in infrastructure and applications will be positioned to reap the greatest rewards for decades to come. Integrated Gulf Biosystems LLC, based in the UAE and serving many parts of the MENA region, is a major player along with its world-class technology partners, in providing end-to-end solutions from discovery to clinical applications, enabling the translation of discoveries into personalised therapies. This is possible given its leading position in advanced sequencing technology, as well as in leveraging the global network of strategic partnerships with the leaders in academia, research, industry, and finally the clinic. The core areas of expertise include inherited and infectious disease diagnostics, basic research, oncology, reproductive health, and transplant genetics. Learn more at

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024



EMERGE 2050: Where innovators and investors connect Taking place in Dubai this May, EMERGE 2050 opens up The Nest, a dedicated zone for innovators and startups to showcase their latest tech. Here are just some of the healthcare visionaries who have appeared in previous editions.

META[BOLIC] Founded in Dubai, meta[bolic] is a hybrid therapeutics company that operates a full-stack clinical presence under the brand GluCare.Health, and manages non-diabetic members with metabolic health concerns through the direct-toconsumer brand Zone.Health. Recently, the brand announced a partnership with ŌURA, the company behind the smart wearable Oura Ring to further assist in its approach that includes behavioural coaching, pharmaceuticals, integrated on-site lab services, and AIassisted diagnostic imaging. Through remote continuous data monitoring, the partnership seeks to consistently track patient progress and identify behaviour patterns as part of its multi-dimensional approach to preventive care.



Established in 2019, Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) has made its footprint in the nation and region as one of the largest hospitals providing world-class, complex healthcare. SSMC operates state-of-the-art medical care, education and research departments in Abu Dhabi. SSMC is set to establish new international benchmarks in the region, further establishing Abu Dhabi as a destination on the global map for worldclass health care excellence in the UAE.

ACT develops advanced technology and artifi cial intelligence solutions that solve today’s most pressing healthcare challenges. The company works with industry leaders to design technology solutions that enhance the patient experience, streamline administrative processes, manage costs, and ultimately, improve healthcare outcomes. In addition to developing proprietary solutions, ACT represents small companies and startups in the international medtech and precision medicine space.

INFUSION 51A Infusion 51a is an impactfocused investment fund on a mission to invest in, develop and advance world changing innovation, initially seeking disruptive precisionbased opportunities within Life Science.

KUWAIT LIFE SCIENCES Established in 2010, Kuwait Life Sciences (KLSC), backed by a paid-up capital of 15 million Kuwait Dinars (equivalent to $53 million USD) and fully owned by the National Technology Enterprises Company, serves as a pioneering venture capitalist and private equity fi rm in the Middle East. Focused on innovative healthcare concepts and services addressing unmet needs in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, KLSC invests globally, operating regionally to advance healthcare services. The company supports public and private sector stakeholders in accessing emerging technologies, establishing unique healthcare projects, and implementing best practices in the fi eld.

NABTA HEALTH Nabta Health is a technology company building a decentralised, patient-centric healthcare platform for women in emerging markets. By combining the best of digital and traditional healthcare along clinical pathways, Nabta Health provides personalised, holistic healthcare to women across four health verticals – health, fertility, pregnancy and menopause. Nabta Health’s objective is to accelerate the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of chronic diseases in women – in the context of specifi c health goals, and in an aff ordable and accessible way.

For more information and to register, visit 64

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024




technology investment in the MENA region EMERGE 2050 is the platform for technology innovators, investors, insurers, and payers to come together to improve operational efficiency and save costs through the latest innovations in healthtech, medtech and biotech. Co-located with PrecisionMed Exhibition & Summit, the EMERGE 2050 two-day conference and “The Nest” start-up exhibition area will showcase the latest pioneers on a global scale to grow the impact of ground-breaking technology in the healthcare sector.

Co-located With

Register today


Why I believe Abu Dhabi, and the rest of the UAE, is one to watch in precision medicine BY LOUIZA CHITOUR, PHD

recision medicine has been a hot topic in the GCC, with significant initiatives and investments – particularly within the UAE, Qatar, and KSA – dedicated to sequencing the genome of their populations. The goal is to gain new insights into healthcare approaches and address the increasing threat of noncommunicable diseases prevalent in the region. In the UAE, I believe that Abu Dhabi has been leading the charge in order to get a step closer in making precision medicine a reality that can benefit patients. This is through the following: • Spearheading the Emirati Genome Programme, a joint initiative by the Department of Health (DoH) Abu Dhabi, SEHA, and G42, profi ling and sequencing the genes of UAE nationals for improved prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. • Establishing key public-private partnerships, highlighted by the 2022 launch of the fi rst personalised precision medicine programme in oncology, in collaboration with DoH, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, NYU Abu Dhabi, M42, MBZUAI, and G42. • Developing a regulatory framework for ethical use of genetic data to drive innovation in precision medicine. • Implementing Malaffi, the region’s fi rst Health Information Exchange (HIE) platform, facilitating real-time sharing of vital patient health information among providers and enhancing healthcare quality through a centralised database of unified patient records. Throughout these initiatives, Abu Dhabi capitalises on a strong foundation involving key stakeholders across the precision medicine value chain. This encompasses strong technological support (G42), state-of-the-art medical facilities (Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi), and a pool of talent (MBZUAI, Khalifa University, and NYU AD). This dynamic ecosystem is further facilitated by a forward-thinking regulator (DoH AD). Internationally, Abu Dhabi has established strategic partnerships with industry leaders such as AstraZeneca, Roche, AbbVie, MSD, and Sanofi. These collaborations position Abu Dhabi as a preferred destination in life sciences, fostering realworld evidence generation, digital health, and research and development activities. This global engagement complements the existing local ecosystem, making the emirate a prominent hub for innovation in healthcare. Abu Dhabi concluded the year on a high note, with Pure Health raising over $986 million in a robust health IPO. This underscores the growing significance of the life science sector as a key element in diversifying the country’s economy, fostering high-skilled job creation, and promoting IP generation.


THE PROMISE OF AI The Abu Dhabi-based G42 serves as a compelling example of how technology, and more specifically AI, can be applied across diverse healthcare use cases. In 2023, AI emerged as a prominent technology, and its significance is expected to continue into 2024. Healthcare is witnessing the benefits of AI and Gen AI, from improving operational efficiencies to streamlining clinical trials and personalising treatments for diseases like cancer and diabetes. In 2024, another dominating trend in the regional healthcare field is expected to be longevity, aiming to extend individuals’ lifespan and, more importantly, their healthspan. This involves researching factors that enable prolonged healthspan and neutralising those that pose a threat. Startups play a crucial role in this new health paradigm, especially in precision medicine. Traditionally limited to oncology, patient companion apps’ technologies are now advancing into other areas like neurological disorders and rare diseases. These startups, such as Tempus Labs, are utilising AI and ML to analyse extensive genomic and clinical data, crafting precise and personalised care plans. Additionally, other startups focus on early disease detection to prompt timely intervention, particularly for patients “under the radar”. The user-friendly accessibility of these solutions empowers individuals to actively engage in their journey to a healthier life. This, of course, shouldn’t overlook the impact of less glamorous digital health startups that are transforming hospital efficiency, reducing diagnostic errors, and streamlining clinical trials. Applying technology in these areas is crucial to getting us closer to a true personalised medicine experience. I’m excited to see how the UAE – and the region – leverages its extensive health data for actionable clinical insights, benefiting caregivers, patients, and targeted population health programmes to enhance the healthspan of its citizens. Louiza Chitour is a UAE-based healthtech senior advisor and angel investor. A former director of Plug & Play Abu Dhabi, Louiza is currently working on a yet TBA healthcare venture.

PrecisionMed International Magazine // January 2024

CREATING NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUR TOMORROW At Technology Innovation Institute, we are pushing the boundaries of applied research with the real world of tomorrow in mind. We are making a difference to the future the UAE and our planet by working at scale and at speed across ten research centers. We work with excellence and curiosity. We don’t simply ask ‘why?’, we ask ‘why not?’ and ‘what if?’. From state-of-the-art facilities in Abu Dhabi to global partnerships. We catalyze change in the fields of alternative energy, advanced materials, autonomous robotics, biotechnology, cryptography, digital science, directed energy, propulsion and space technologies, secure systems and quantum engineering.

Discover more about the vital questions we’re asking at

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.