Samy Mahmoud Image Credit: Courtesy: University of Sharjah

Sharjah: Research at Sharjah University into the possible cure for breast cancer and Alzheimer's disease has attracted international attention and pre-clinical trials on animals could begin soon, researchers said yesterday.

Researchers have reached a "significant step", said Chancellor Prof. Samy Mahmoud of the University of Sharjah, said, noting that they had gained some good leads into what triggers some enzymes that cause cancers and Alzheimer's.

Cancer is the leading cause of deaths in the UAE, not traffic accidents or heart diseases, said the researchers. Ra'afat Al Awadi, associate professor at the College of Pharmacology, said records at Al Tawaam Hospital in Al Ain has showed that cancer is the main killer in the country. "We have identified some compounds that are "active" against breast cancer," he said.

About 500 people die in the UAE every year due to cancer and millions of dirhams are spent to treat advanced cases of cancer in the country. Of the cancers, breast cancer is the most common malignancy.

Significant milestone

The chancellor said millions of dirhams has been allocated for the research and that in the future the research will be expanded into other diseases.

"Sharjah and the UAE are moving in step with the rest of the world in trying to combat diseases," he said. The pre-clinical trials will be done in coordination with top international institutions in the US, France, Japan and Australia, he said. "There's nothing like the research being done here [in the rest of the region]," he said.

The research has been ongoing since the past two years but only recently was a significant milestone reached when researchers identified some chemicals that attack the enzymes in the body that causes diseases.

Pre-clinic trials are also expected to begin very soon for compounds to tackle Alzheimer's. While there are no figures about the prevalence of this disease, in the US 5.3 million are affected by this debilitating memory loss disease. Millions are also affected by this in Europe and Japan, Dr Taleb Al Tel, chairman of Medicinal Chemistry at the University. He said there is no cure for Alzheimer's.