SHAMS witnesses the launch of the US $ 300 million China Node of the Human Variome Project
Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences witnessed the official launch of the 10-years governmental Chinese Human Variome Project, with the budget of US $ 300 million. The project aims at improving clinical genetics services in China and ensuring that information on variations in 5,000 genes from around the world is freely and openly available.
"The China Node of the Human Variome Project was launched during the Human Variome Meeting, held in Beijing, the Chinese capital, from 8 to 12 December. Also, the award’s Centre for Arab Genomic Studies signed a document of mutual cooperation with the Human Variome Organization, an international body concerned with studying mutations of genes in individuals and peoples. The document’s aim is to provide better healthcare services and alleviate peoples’ suffering from diseases with genetic basis", Prof. Najib Al Khaja, Secretary General of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Medical Sciences, president of Centre for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS) said.
Prof. Najib Al Khaja headed the Award’s delegation during the meeting, which also included Mr. Abdullah Bin Souqat, Executive Director of the Award, Dr. Ghazi Tadmouri, Assistant Director of CAGS, and Prof. Fahd Al-Mulla and Prof. Lotfi Chouchane, Members of the Arab Council of CAGS.
Along with CAGS, the document was signed by the representatives of the American College of Medical Genetics, International Federation of Human Genetics Societies, Latin American Network of Human Genetics, East Asian Union of Human Genetics Societies, Spanish Society of Human Genetics, human Genetics Society of Australia, Human Genome Variation Society, American Society of Human Genetics, African Society of Human Genetics, European Society of Human Genetics, Asian Pacific Society of Human Genetics, British Society of Human Genetics, Belgian Society of Human Genetics, and the Cyprus Society of Human Genetics.
"On the sidelines of the Human Variome Meeting, CAGS held an extensive meeting with officials from the Human Variome Organization, including Prof. Richard Cotton, the president, and Mr. David Abraham, the Chairman of its Board. We discussed ways of cooperation and the importance of supporting the Arab Variome Projects by Arab governments, WHO and UNESCO", Prof. Al Khaja said.
"This meeting comes within the framework of efforts exerted by the International Human Variome Project including searching for a common formula of work for more than 2000 genetic databases curated all over the world and to get them linked together to the organization along with world genetic laboratories and local Genome Projects. Such communication will facilitate exchanging information with the aim of upgrading health sectors generally and genomic medicine particularly for better diagnosis and treatment for diseases with genetic basis", Al Khaja Said.
On the other hand, Mr. Abdullah Bin Souqat Executive Director of the Award said that the Human Variome Organization praised CAGS as the Arab Model of parties concerned with studying human variation in developing nations.
"CAGS has great achievements in that field including the foundation of the largest Ethnic-Specific Database worldwide, which is in the service of hundreds of thousands of doctors and scientists all over the world", Bin Souqat said.
"Currently, CAGS is working on the completion of required measures to launch the UAE Genome Project which will be then linked to other Arab Genome Projects, in the process, as a nucleus for establishing the Pan Arab Human Variome", Bin Souqat said.
He added that mapping the Arab Genome will stop spending billions of dollars in Arab health sectors on the treatment and diagnosis of many chronic diseases in Arabs by travelling abroad or using foreign genetic labs.
"For example, the revenues of the Chinese Variome Project is expected to exceed its expenses as human genetics will be the core of diagnosis and treatment in the Chinese healthcare sectors in the future, depending on well equipped genetic laboratories and well prepared staff", Bin Souqat added.
It should be noted that the Human Variome Organization is a non-profit organization founded in Australia in 2006. The organization is keen on benefiting from the openly available Human Variome Project’s information by developed and developing countries on an equal term.
The Human Variome Meeting in Beijing discussed many important issues such as the establishment of gene/disease specific databases and developing related protocols, and software platform in addition to its related ethical issues and issues faced by low/middle income countries.