The Centre for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS), a division of the Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences has, in a follow-up to the launch of the Catalogue for Transmission Genetics in Arabs (CTGA) in 2004, released the User's Guide on the database.
This has been done with a view to keep up with the growth of the CTGA database over the past two years, both in content and popularity. The objective of the user's guide is to be a manual for people who may want to use the database for their specific needs.
In its introductory chapter, the manual gives a brief introduction to the internet, as well as data mining on the internet. The structure and significance of the CTGA database in particular is then explained in a manner easily understandable even by people new to the world of data mining. More importantly, the manual provides a step-by-step guide to using the search engine provided within the CTGA database to mine useful information. A number of practical examples have been provided throughout the manual, which makes it extremely easy to understand the various search strategies.
Also available in the User's Guide is a practical guide to using the CTGA submission form available in the database. This part of the manual is of special importance to researchers, doctors and clinical geneticists who may want to make their own contributions to the database. The manual also provides examples of some important records in the database as a reference.
Ever since its inception in 2003, CAGS has worked towards a better understanding of genetic disorders afflicting the Arab population. This initiative is all the more important considering the high level of consanguinity (marriage between relatives) prevalent among Arab communities, a factor directly responsible for the increased incidences of genetic disorders. Although efforts had earlier been made to catalogue genetic disorders in Arabs, up until a couple of years ago, no concrete results were available.
The CTGA is a compendium of genetic disorders reported from the Arab world and it is the only one of its kind presently available in the market. What makes this database more interesting is that not only is the database continuously updated and modified according to newer information received, but it is also freely accessible online. The CTGA database contains clinical and molecular genetic information on genetic disorders reported among Arabs, along with epidemiological details of such reports. The database also carries details of molecular studies undertaken on disorder-related genes in the Arab population.