UAE: New cutting-edge molecular genetics lab to improve cancer diagnosis in country, region

The new lab, which is expected to start operations by the end of this year, will be divided into two areas

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Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Thu 13 Apr 2023, 3:38 PM

Last updated: Thu 13 Apr 2023, 3:39 PM

In a major development for more effective cancer diagnosis and early detection, a new cutting-edge lab providing advanced molecular genetics, cellular and immunological profile testing to patients will be established in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi-headquartered Burjeel Holdings and Canada-based OncoHelix inked an agreement to offer personalised medicine and novel techniques through a state-of-the-art lab, which will be able to cater to needs of hospitals not only in the UAE, but in the entire region.

The new lab, which is expected to start operations by the end of this year, will be divided into two areas. An advanced diagnostic lab arm will focus on offering ground-breaking molecular genetics and immunological profiling tests to assist oncologists and physicians in the diagnosis, risk stratification, and tailored treatment for patients with cancer, genetic diseases, or immune disorders.

The second arm will expand on Burjeel Holdings’ existing translational research programme and analyse cancer patients’ genomic and immune signatures to develop innovative approaches for diagnosis and treatment.

OncoHelix, based in Western Canada, has the largest breadth of clinically validated comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP) panels for cancer in the country. As part of its academic roles at the University of Calgary, OncoHelix’s scientists and clinicians have an impeccable record in translational research, with over 350 publications in major scientific journals.

Their translational research team has developed impactful precision oncology and immunology pipelines aimed at improving clinical outcomes for cancer patients and transplant recipients.

John Sunil, CEO of Burjeel Holdings, said collaborations like these will bolster the UAE’s growing medical tourism market and steer it forward as a global leader in healthcare.

“Burjeel Holdings continues to invest in and establish new partnerships that help promote the expansion of our translational research programme and improve patient outcomes. This new venture will utilise the clinical and academic experience of OncoHelix Inc to build a state-of-the-art laboratory, through which we will offer testing services not widely available in the UAE.”

Dr Faisal Khan, CEO of OncoHelix and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said the new lab will be beneficial for cancer patients, organ transplant recipients and donors, and those suffering from autoimmune diseases.

“We are joining forces with Burjeel Holdings to create a local advanced diagnostic programme that will not only aid in the early and accurate diagnosis of malignancies and immunological disorders, but also pave the road for newer treatment options guided by disease-specific molecular signatures.

The translational research programme will investigate the somatic and germline variant landscapes of cancer patients, as well as the immune profile patterns of transplant recipients and donors from the region, to lead the development of precision medicine-based treatment methods.”

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