Visitors wait for their turn at a SEHA COVID-19 vaccination center at Mina Rashed in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Experts in Abu Dhabi will work with Victoria, Australia, to develop further treatments against COVID-19, following the signing of an agreement between the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), and mRNA Victoria, representing the State of Victoria in Australia.

RNA is a nucleic acid present in all living cells that acts as a messenger carrying instructions from DNA. Under the agreement, work will be undertaken to advance the global RNA ecosystem. The two entities will identify areas of interest related to RNA research while initiating academic collaborations and knowledge exchange, as well as explore early-stage research investment opportunities. The collaborations will include clinical trial opportunities and private sector investment opportunities.

Science hub

Abu Dhabi enforced its position as a life science hub and has been recognised for its leading response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The collaboration with the State of Victoria is one of many that are aimed at elevating the healthcare sector through building capabilities and ensuring preparedness.

With a focus on the development of a robust RNA ecosystem, both parties will be able to identify prospective partners and collaborate with organisations seeking to develop and license RNA-based therapeutics as well as manufacturing innovative treatments. Furthermore, the agreement seeks to form a steering committee represented by members from DoH and the mRNA department in Victoria to ensure alignment, effective execution and implementation.

“Under the guidance of our wise leadership, Abu Dhabi registered a successful track record in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The DoH continues to work towards adopting innovative treatment and breakthrough solutions in the UAE to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community. As a result of the tremendous efforts of stakeholders and entities across Abu Dhabi’s health ecosystem, the authority has been successful in reinforcing the capital’s position as a life sciences hub and epicentre for innovative healthcare,” said Dr Jamal Al Kaabi, DoH undersecretary.

“With the signing of this collaboration agreement with the State of Victoria, we look forward to seeing the fruit of our collaboration when it comes to advancements in mRNA-based therapeutics research and strengthening the capabilities of the international healthcare system so that we are better prepared for future pandemics and health crises,” he added.

“Victoria continues to lead the way in mRNA biotechnology and this agreement signifies a global collaboration to share knowledge, information and expertise within the ecosystem supporting supply chains research and development for pre and clinical research, commercialisation and manufacturing investments. This collaborative agreement with DoH reinforces the Victorian Government’s commitment to establish a world-class Victorian mRNA and RNA industry, and by engaging internationally, it ensures Victoria is established as an AsiaPac regional hub for the next generation mRNA broad-based therapeutics,” said Jaala Pulford, minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy in the Government of Victoria.

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Doubling research

Abu Dhabi doubled its research capabilities during the past year, and developed several scientific and clinical and research projects that exceeded the number of projects conducted during the previous five years. DoH also launched the COVID-19 Research Registry, a unified platform that supports scientific research and accelerates the pace of innovations and discoveries related to COVID-19. Till date, the registry has received 386 scientific papers, with 340 being approved and 46 being published.