Qatar is engaged in the most ambitious project in genome research in the Middle East, which could lead to revolutionary developments in several aspects of medicine and treatment in the coming years.
According to a report, ‘Genomics in the Gulf Region and Islamic Ethics’ released during the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) 2016, Qatar Genome Programme (QGP) along with Saudi Human Genome Programme are the two major national programmes in genome research in the Gulf region.
“Compared with other initiatives in the region, the Qatar Genome Programme stands as one of the most ambitious national projects in the Gulf, and indeed the whole Middle East," the report has highlighted.
"The programme was launched with a vision to position Qatar as a pioneer in the implementation of advanced precision medicine and personalised healthcare. From its conception, the programme was designed within the framework of a comprehensive national plan to build a unique model that placed Qatar as a lead nation in the implementation of precision medicine.”
Several researchers have pointed out that statistically and scientifically, sequencing genomes of 10% of the population is good enough to generate enough data that could be applied on the entire population of a nation.
According to the WISH report, one of the main goals of QGP pilot phase is the establishment of the Qatari reference genome map, which will be built with the data generated by the sequencing of the first 3,000 genomes.
With precision medicine in focus, the QGP has also launched several other initiatives to reach the milestone. “The Qatar National Research Fund and QGP are collaborating to create a research-funding programme under the name "Pathway towards Personalised Medicine (PPM)". Launched in 2016, PPM encourages local research on genomics.
QGP has also formed a publication steering committee to coordinate efforts by local researchers working on data generated by the first 3,000 genomes to publish their results in high-impact scientific journals, continues the report.
The report also points out that QGP and the Ministry of Public Health are collaborating to draft an ethicolegal policy document to provide guidelines that will govern genomic research in Qatar.