The Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) at Qatar University (QU), in collaboration with external entities, has initiated several research activities focused on the coronavirus (Covid-19 and Mers-CoV).
The research activities are led by BRC-QU director Dr Asmaa al-Thani, and research projects manager at BRC-QU Dr Hadi Yassine.
BRC initiated six researches to fight the emerging Covid-19. These are ‘A detailed analysis of exported Covid-19 cases (from China to the rest of the world)’, which is being done in collaboration with College of Medicine QU and Ministry of Public Health (MoPH); ‘Using digital simulation technology to test the ability of some inhibitors to stop Covid-19 binding to its cellular receptors’ conducted by BRC; ‘Study of the genetics evolution of seasonal and zoonotic coronavirus that infects humans’, a research being done through collaboration between BRC and Hamad Bin Khalifa University – Qatar Foundation; ‘Study the evolution of the coronavirus (Mers) that causes respiratory syndrome in humans and camels in the Middle East’ by BRC, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) and the MoPH; ‘A comparative study on the presence and amount of anti- coronavirus antibodies against seasonal and zoonotic coronaviruses in humans in Qatar’, published on February 2, 2019, by BRC and the MoPH; and ‘Study on the complete structure of the coronavirus spike protein (viral thorn) its pre-bonding form with cellular receptors, published on March 2, 2016, by the National
Institute of Health (US) and BRC.
In order to reach the various private and public health sectors in Qatar and to build necessary capacities, BRC in collaboration with HMC, MoPH and international partners, has organised international workshops - including ‘The Fourth International Conference on Human, Animal and Environment Interaction with Emerging Diseases 2017’.
The conference was the first of its kind in the region and it received wide recognition at the local and international levels. The number of attendees exceeded 300, including 115 from
foreign and Arab countries.
BRC also collaborates with various government institutions in the country not only in research, but also in service and outreaching activities. In terms of research, BRC has participated in several research projects with a number of government organisations on antibiotic profiling of antibiotics resistant microbes in humans and animals (‘One health’ approach) and others on several viral infections circulating in Qatar.
The centre seeks to engage the various sectors in the country in its research projects.
In this respect, the centre has co-operated with the industrial sector in Qatar through a research project with ExxonMobil on the DNA sequence of the dugong (sea cow). It is also co-operating with some community institutions, such as Al Gannas Society at Katara, on a project titled ‘Decoding the Genetic Code of Qatari Falcons’.
One of that the most important achievements of BRC is the establishment of a laboratory that matches the third level of laboratory bio-safety by Certek International, US. The laboratories that specialise in infectious microbes are classified into four levels of bio-safety (BSL1, 2, 3, 4), based on the risk level of the studied microbes.
For example, BSL-3 laboratories provide safety factors when dealing with or treating infectious, self or exotic factors that are transmitted by inhalation and can cause serious illness.
Dr Hadi Yassine
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