Doha, Qatar – August 26, 2018: Qatar Genome Programme (QGP), a member of Qatar Foundation (QF), has embarked on a research collaboration with the Qatar Cardiovascular Biorepository (QCBio) at the Heart Hospital of Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), involving whole genome sequencing of a large cohort of Qatari patients.
The collaboration forms part of QGP’s mission to work with various local institutions on improving the future of healthcare in Qatar. The project, involving Qatar Biobank, also a member of QF, will analyze the underlying genetic determinants related to heart problems in the Qatari population, and aims to lead to the discovery of protein biomarkers, and effective prevention and treatment measures.
Around 1,000 Qatari patients and their families have participated in the QCBio initiative to date. In preparation for phase 2, participant samples were sent for whole genome sequencing. Analysis of the resulting data will shed light on heart disease pathways and will reveal new and targeted approaches for individualized treatment of heart disease in Qatar.
In recent years, coronary heart disease (CHD) has increased dramatically in the Arabian Gulf region and worldwide. The World Health Organization estimates that by the year 2020, cardiovascular diseases will be the major cause of morbidity and mortality. CHD presentations and symptoms vary greatly and could be anywhere from abnormal heartbeats (palpitations) to sudden death at a young age.
Professor Asma Al-Thani, Chairperson of the Qatar Genome Programme Committee, and Board Vice Chairperson of Qatar Biobank, explained the aims of the collaboration: “Our vision is to improve the quality of future health for the local society, and to be pioneers in genomic research that translates into tangible outcomes, and impacts our people directly. This cannot happen without a strong partnership with the main clinical arm of healthcare in Qatar, which is HMC. This collaboration with QCBio is one of our various initiatives focusing on genomics of national disease priorities, to improve the quality of life for the local society through the implementation of precision medicine”.
Dr Jassim Al Suwaidi, Director of Cardiovascular Research at Hamad General Hospital, and his team started the QCBio initiative, which is a biorepository of samples from both patients and healthy individuals, and is the first of its kind in the region.
Dr Al Suwaidi explained the project, saying: “In the cardiovascular research center at HMC, we are excited about this collaboration with Qatar Genome Programme and Qatar Biobank and we hope that this project paves the way for opportunities for personalized medicine therapies for the most common cause of death in Qatar and worldwide, both in men and women.”
The role of Qatar Genome Programme lies in being a national genomics research initiative working in collaboration with many local stakeholders and researchers, to map the genome of the local population, and study the wealth of data collected and held by Qatar Biobank.