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Arab Genomic Studies
‘Need to Frame Legal Norms for Genetic Research’
28 Feb 2010

Ahead of the 3rd Pan-Arab Human Genetic Conference to be held next month in Dubai, Dr Ghazi Omar Tadmouri, Assistant Director of the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies, stressed on the importance of study of genetic disorders among the Arab people at the DNA level, saying that this will help develop new therapeutic approaches. He was speaking on the emergence of genomic research globally over the past five-six years, which had given an insight into the genetic conditions behind diseases like cancer and conditions like diabetes and hypertension. More than 940 genetic disorders have been characterized in Arab people so far, said the senior geneticist. “However, 280 of these disorders remain identified only at the clinical level,” he added. Genomic research maps more than one gene for disorders as compared to genetic research which focuses on a single gene, he explained.

He said study of these disorders would contribute to a better understanding of the processes controlling the function of the human genome and help provide diagnostic services to affected communities and families. It will also help reduce the spread and mitigate the symptoms of these disorders, and possibly suggest new therapeutic approaches based on the genetic backgrounds of affected individuals, he said.

However, with the spread of such new research models all over the world, a need has been raised to develop legal regulations governing the conduct of such research, an issue that will be addressed at the conference.

“Though such research is not being carried out in the UAE at present, the advancement in technology to carry out the research will soon or later be available here. And, for this reason, we need guidelines to govern this form of research in the country.”

“Investments in technology required to carry out such research are cheap and already being done worldwide,” added the doctor who is also member of the scientific committee of the conference.

The conference will also discuss a paper from the World Health Organisation’s regional office that deals with laws governing the application of genomic research at the global level, said Dr Mahmoud Taleb Al Ali, Director of CAGS.

“Developed research of genomic studies is now seeking clues for the genetic causes of many chronic and complex disorders such as cancer and hypertension usually resulting from defects in one or more genes in the human DNA,” he said.