Two undergraduate students from Qatar University College of Health Sciences (QU-CPH) Department of Biomedical Sciences, in collaboration with external researchers from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), have come up with a "unique approach" to understand the underlying mechanism of a special type of leukemic cancer.
They used an array of technology that looked into RNAs (Ribonucleic acid) in an abstract titled ‘Expression Profiling of Micro RNAs (MiRNAs) and Long Non-Coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) Patients in the State of Qatar’.
The abstract was accepted in the conference of the 59th American Society of Hematology annual meeting and published in the journal 'Blood', QU said in a press statement.
Students Salsabel Sami Elshami and Nada Mehdhar Nasser, along with their peers from HMC, studied the role of micro RNA and long non-coding RNA in CML for the first time. The study, the first of its kind in Qatar, was supervised by Dr Pejman Hanifi-Moghaddam, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, and Dr Nader al-Dewik, medical technical Consultant.
The study was funded by an internal student grant from Qatar University and the UREP grant from QNRF, Qatar Foundation.
The team discovered that a specific type of IncRNAs are associated with disease phase and response to treatment, compared to healthy individuals using cutting edge technology of Next Generation Sequencing. As all cells have a copy of genetic material (DNA) that is read and converted to proteins, which makes up bulk of our body.
The conversion to protein is done via a secondary genetic material called messenger RNA. However, there are other RNA that is copied from DNA that is not used to make any protein. These are called non coding RNA (ncRNA). Up until now, ncRNAs were considered as 'junk' RNA. Further, these ncRNA was shown to play an important role in other type of cancer study.
A graduate student in the biomedical sciences department, Kholoud Aljassim, is further studying these promising results. Commenting on the study, Elshami said: “It was a great opportunity to have my graduation project in such a creative environment. We learned many valuable things from our strong team work.”
Head of Research and Graduate Studies at College of Health Sciences, Dr Maha al-Asmakh, said: “The College of Health Sciences will continue to deliver on its vision to have such outstanding students who wish to explore new horizons and seek solutions through research in order to contribute to the growth of the healthcare sector in Qatar and the fulfilment of Qatar National Vision 2030.”