Dubai to Sequence DNA of Entire Population
Dubai has revealed plans to sequence the DNA of its entire population, in a bid to improve the health of its 3 million residents.
The United Arab Emirates city announced the initiative in conjunction with its Dubai 10X Initiative, reports Gizmodo. The plan is to implement this as soon as possible, with the hope that the use of these technologies will become standard practice in ten years.
They are intending to approach the process in a different way, however, by reversing genetic research. “Instead of studying an affected patient’s genetics, our AI goes through the database, finds out who has been affected, and looks for non-patients with similar genetic profiles and are therefore at risk,” said the company website.
In the final phase, the project hopes to collaborate with pharmaceutical companies to design targeted therapies for genetic conditions. There are a number of end goals, including eradicating and containing genetic disorders; prevent disease by promoting lifestyle changes in people at risk; help spur the adoption of personalised medicine; and all whilst doing so, turn Dubai into a leader of genomic medicine.
Although its unclear as to whether Dubai is planning to sequence the full genome of all its residents, or to only fully sequence a large number of them, either way, it’s an ambitious goal.
Director General of the Dubai Health Association, Humaid Mohammed Al Qatami stated that the first phase of the project will include collecting DNA samples and setting up laboratories, and will happen over the next two years. At present, it’s unclear what privacy protections will be put into place, or whether there will be any sort of requirement to participate.