The launch of the programme builds on the DoH’s mission to drive the future of the healthcare sector using advanced artificial intelligence-based technologies, and position Abu Dhabi as an innovation hub in life sciences. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi has launched its first personalised precision medicine programme to treat cancer in the emirate, with the first phase focusing on the care of patients suffering from breast cancer.

The programme, which aims to detect, diagnose and treat patients using the latest research and models of care, has been launched by Abu Dhabi health regulator, the Department of Health (DoH), in collaboration with Mubadala Health, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, New York University (NYU Abu Dhabi), Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) and G42 Healthcare.

AI-based care

The launch of the programme builds on the DoH’s mission to drive the future of the healthcare sector using advanced artificial intelligence-based technologies, and position Abu Dhabi as an innovation hub in life sciences.

“Under the directives of our wise leadership, Abu Dhabi continues to strengthen its position as a leading destination for advanced healthcare, as well as an incubator for innovation in life sciences. By integrating predictive, personalised and precision medicine using genomics we can take the entire process of diagnostics, drug therapy and prevention, and tailor it to the needs of the specific individual,” said Dr Jamal Al Kaabi, DoH undersecretary.

Over time, the personalised precision medicine programme aims to develop the required research infrastructure to position the UAE as a leader in global genomics, balancing discovery and clinical research. MBZUAI and NYU Abu Dhabi are leading the collaborative research efforts to support the application of genome science in oncology medicine, in alignment with DoH’s innovation and research strategy.

“Along with our partners we are working on effectively developing, evaluating and introducing these innovative therapeutics and pharmaco-genetics, targeting oncological diseases, especially breast cancer mutations. By using data-driven healthcare services and research, we are evolving the oncology diseases research landscape, incorporating the rich multi-factorial data to reduce the prevalence of breast cancer, and enhance the treatment and significantly reduce the risks associated with the patient’s lifestyle,” Dr Al Kaabi said.

Customised treatment

DoH developed regulatory policies, and worked with Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to design the programme with a focus on development of clinical testing guidelines. The project will also use the collected genome data to create customised treatment plans and genomics counselling for enrolled breast cancer patients.

Breast cancer was the most common type of cancer in the UAE in 2020, with 1,030 new cases, according to the World Health Organisation’s Global Cancer Observatory. As of the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women alive globally who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous five years, making it the world’s most prevalent cancer.

Advance cancer care

“As the leading healthcare network in Abu Dhabi, Mubadala Health is excited to be a key partner in this programme, which is a regional first. Along with our partner, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, we look forward to playing a central role in the advancement of the breast cancer clinical testing and screening, and ultimately enhance the quality of life of our patients by using science-based risk assessment and tailored prevention care plans. We are confident that our work will contribute to DoH’s efforts in spearheading the growth and development of the healthcare sector, positioning Abu Dhabi as a centre for medical innovation and technological advances within the UAE and wider region,” said Hasan Al Nowais, CEO at Mubadala Health.

“Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s extensive experience and expertise into genetic counselling and testing, positions the organisation well to collaborate with the DoH for this programme. The first phase of the programme specifically targets the most common form of cancer in the UAE, breast cancer, enabling customized cancer prevention plans for high risk patients and treatment plans for select breast cancer patients. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi looks forward to supporting DoH’s drive to cement the emirate as the hub for innovation and precision medicine. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies and data collected from the Abu Dhabi Genome Program, this collaboration will allow us to develop and launch clinical testing guidelines that will help existing and future breast cancer patients through individual genetic profiling,” said Dr Stephen Grobmyer, chair of the oncology institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, a Mubadala Health partner.

Gene sequencing

As part of the agreement, G42 Healthcare will provide gene sequencing and a clinical genetic report within two weeks of receiving the patient data from Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. It will also collaborate with Mubadala Health’s National Reference Laboratory to ensure that the final genetic report is in line with the required standards of care.

“By providing genetic testing and sequencing technologies for precision oncology therapies, we hope to make testing easily accessible and available for oncology patients. As the programme grows in scale, this will facilitate early detection and treatment, bring in cost efficiencies, ensure better prediction, prevention, and treatment of genetic and chronic illnesses for patients,” said Dr Fahed Al Marzooqi, chief operating officer at G42 Healthcare.