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News & Press Release - 2013
Arab Genomic Studies
5th Pan Arab Human Genetics Conference discusses next-generation sequencing techniques
23 Oct 2013

Prof. Najib Al Khaja, Secretary General of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences and President of the 5th Pan Arab Human Genetics Conference, held a meeting to follow up on the latest developments of the conference that is organized by the Award’s Centre for Arab Genomic Studies in Dubai, between 17-19 November, with the theme "Genomics into healthcare". The meeting was attended by both Dr. Mahmoud Taleb Al Ali, Director of the Center for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS) and Chairman of the Scientific Committee of the Conference, and Dr. Abdul Rezzak Hamzeh, Senior Scientific Coordinator of CAGS, and a member of the Scientific Committee of the Conference.

“Next-generation (next-gen) sequencing is one of the main topics of the conference. This realm of technology went through tremendous leaps forward in many developed countries around the world.  It represents certain approaches to DNA sequencing using micro-reactors and/or solid surfaces to which DNA molecules are attached to allow for a large number of sequencing reactions to happen simultaneously (in parallel) in a much shorter time”, Dr. Mahmoud said, after the meeting.

“These new techniques save money, time and effort, which used to be required to sequence DNA. Moreover, next-gen sequencing is currently utilized in a myriad of medical applications such as early preimplantation genetic diagnosis, and other tests for early detection of diseases. Therefore, these techniques help us achieve early diagnosis and predict patients' response to therapy in order to start effective treatment sooner than later. Additionally, DNA sequencing is required for a wide range of basic scientific research as in studying genetic variations that exist between different ethnic groups who share the same country”, he added.

“Due to the high importance of next-gen sequencing, which could play a vital role in improving healthcare services in the Arab world, the 5th Pan Arab Human Genetics Conference will have ten lectures on this topic by elite scientists and doctors from all over the world. Of these specialists is Dr. John Wang, director of the BGI center in China, the latter centre is one of the biggest genomic centers worldwide. Additionally, Dr. Radoje Drmanac from USA will deliver a lecture on possible clinical applications and use of next-gen DNA sequencers. From Kuwait, Prof Fahd Al-Mulla will talk about the relationship between these techniques and genomic medicine. Finally the work of the highly reputable Max Planck institute in Germany will be present through a lecture by Dr. Hilger Ropers who will speak about using next-gen sequencing in studying and diagnosing genetic disorder that can lead to mental retardation.

“The conference has a number of distinguished presentations by Arab researchers who used these techniques in their studies to investigate the relationship between certain genes and a number of hereditary disorders in the region. Of these are a Qatari study unraveling disease causing genes involved in autosomal recessive disorders, a UAE study focusing on genes segregating with autosomal recessive disorders in consanguineous families and another study indentifying genes causing monogenic diabetes.

It is worth mentioning that the scientific program of the 5th Pan Arab Human Genetic Conference includes 54 lectures with the participation of more than 500 doctors, geneticists and researchers from 15 countries including Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Tunisia, Palestine, Germany, England, Greece, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, the United States and China.

Alongside the conference, a workshop will be held around the RD-Connect project, which is a global endeavor to link up databases, registries and biobanks related to research on rare diseases.