UAE: Hospital introduces novel testing method to detect cancer cells

The test results in improved prognosis and monitoring of patients living with B-cell acute lymphocytic leukaemia

by

Ashwani Kumar

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Pictured: Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City
Pictured: Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City

Published: Wed 29 Mar 2023, 2:24 PM

Last updated: Wed 29 Mar 2023, 2:48 PM

Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) has recently introduced a new test for patients living with B-cell acute lymphocytic leukaemia (B-ALL).

The B-ALL minimal residual disease (MRD) testing by flow cytometry is a unique test to detect post-treatment B-cell lymphoblastic leukaemia cancer cells. The test results in improved prognosis and monitoring of patients living with the disease. It is especially beneficial to patients with B-cell lymphoblastic leukaemia, given the aggressive nature of the disease.


B-ALL is a type of blood and marrow cancer that occurs when an excess of abnormal B-lymphocytes are produced. These types of white blood cells support the body in fighting infection. When too many of those cells accumulate in the blood and bone marrow, they impact healthy blood cells, making it harder for the body’s immune system to fight infections. B-ALL progresses rapidly and requires highly specialised testing to be optimally managed.

SSMC’s B-ALL MRD testing by flow cytometry helps detect minimal residual disease (MRD), which is the name given to leukaemic cells that remain in the body during treatment and are a major cause of relapse.


“Having the B-ALL MRD testing by flow cytometry available at SSMC is invaluable to improving patient outcomes and providing a truly personalised experience. It enables us to identify MRD levels and gives our team of multidisciplinary specialists detailed information to improve the prognosis and monitoring of the disease. Additionally, the results guide us in amending the management of the disease and pinpointing the right level of care needed to yield the best possible therapeutic benefits for patients,” said Dr Eiman Al Zaabi, consultant in hematopathology and chairperson of the pathology and laboratory medicine department at SSMC.

“Based on the test results, further therapies can be adapted to achieve long-term complete remission and contribute to reducing the harmful effects of chemotherapy.”

Additional benefits of the B-ALL MRD testing include identifying patients who are at a higher risk of relapse, allowing for earlier intervention by their dedicated medical team, and who qualify for stem cell transplants.

Dr Matthew Gettman, chief medical officer at SSMC, added: “By having tests such as the B-ALL MRD Testing available to patients in Abu Dhabi, we are able to complement our clinical excellence and provide human-centred and integrated solutions led by global experts when delivering world-class oncological care to patients undergoing complex and time-sensitive treatments.”

SSMC is one of the UAE’s largest hospitals for serious and complex care and a joint-venture partnership between Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) and Mayo Clinic.

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