The first 4th generation sequencer in the region, at the Centre for Biomedical Research and Innovation at the Gulf Medical University, will innovate and bring in newer diagnostic capabilities to the UAE
Dubai, UAE, 8th February 2017: With genetics and genes responsible for a person’s day-to-day state of health and predisposition to develop disease, the ability to take genomics from the laboratory bench in hi-tech labs literally to the patient’s bedside will play a very important role in the future of the health of patients across the UAE. Delegates at the MEDLAB Exhibition & Congress, the world’s leading event for laboratory management and diagnostics, which continues until 9th February at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre, today heard from Dr PK Menon, Director, Laboratory Services, GMC Diagnostics, Ajman, UAE, about the immense potential of 4th generation DNA sequencing to cure genetically inherited diseases, among others.
To understand genes, we need to study the sequence of nucleic acids which comprise the gene. This is called DNA sequencing. Today, with 4th generation sequencing, it becomes easy to read large amounts of genetic material in a short span of time. The 4th generation sequencers are very small, the size of a matchbox, and they work with a laptop and do their data analyses in the cloud. According to Dr Menon, this new disruptive technology will, in the next couple of years, change how we understand genes and enable us to actually take genomics from the laboratory to the patient’s bedside.
“For example, during the Ebola outbreak in Africa, under field conditions, using the 4th generation sequencer, scientists could, within one and a half hours of the sample being isolated, obtain the sequences of the Ebola virus in the African countryside. Hence, this is going to change the way diagnostics are going to happen,” explained Dr Menon. “Similarly, in microbiology, bacteria’s genes can be rapidly identified for bacterial resistance factors to antibiotics and thus help make quick decisions on appropriate therapy for the patient.”
As in much of the rest of the world, there are many labs in the UAE that carry out 1st and 2nd generation sequencing, generating massive amounts of data over a longer period of time. However, the Centre for Biomedical Research and Innovation at the Gulf Medical University in Ajman has acquired the first 4th generation sequencer in the region where they are hoping to innovate and bring in newer diagnostic capabilities allowing patients to get their results much faster.
According to Dr Menon, “Our genes decide what a person is going to be like, what metabolic diseases they could suffer from and the possible cancers which may develop if the individual does not lead a healthy life. DNA-based testing is gaining importance in the region and, in the times to come, more and more individuals will use DNA sequencing as a tool in precision medicine to guide themselves into predictive positive health.”
Carlo Kaabar CEO of Futurelab Medical Laboratories and Co-Chair of the Laboratory Management conference at the congress, explained how reduced pricing in technology is making advanced genetic testing accessible to the region:
“Technology has now come down in price from millions 20 years ago, to literally being able to do a genome (gene) test for $1,000. Rather than laboratories simply reporting a test’s result and value, they will now be able to actually tell people their genetic make-up. That is no doubt influencing what the future laboratory is going to look like and it was exciting to hear the conversations at this conference, particularly from the local laboratory community who are introducing this testing which will obviously benefit patients in the UAE”, he said.
Over the four-day show, MEDLAB Congress offers over 11 CME-accredited multi-disciplinary conference tracks featuring topics such as laboratory management, molecular diagnostics and clinical chemistry. Tomorrow’s programme will feature the much-awaited topics such as the impact of expanding Point-of-Care Testing (POCT) from a hospital-based setting to the community, as well as the role of the lab in clinical information and the question of whether patients should have access to their laboratory test results.
The exhibition will also continue to see ground-breaking products on show, such as innovative diapers that help screen the presence of ketons and glucose in the baby’s urine from home, as well as a macro digital imaging system that allows pathologists to quickly and accurately document specimens from surgeries while reducing specimen description time and improving productivity and workflow. Additionally, visitors will also be given the opportunity to receive a hands-on training on some of the latest technologies by exhibitors.
Simon Page, Managing Director of Informa Life Sciences Exhibitions, the organisers of MEDLAB said: “The scientific programme at MEDLAB has been carefully designed to shed light on the exciting new technologies utilised in today’s medical laboratories that can have a real impact on improving the health and wellbeing of patients across the region. We are pleased to be able to bring together some of the world’s brightest minds in the field to work together to introduce some of the pioneering solutions to this part of the world.”
As a platform for the pioneers in the laboratory industry to showcase their latest updates and innovation, MEDLAB also hosts more than 700 of the world’s leading laboratory management and diagnostics brands such as Abbott, Siemens Healthineers, Snibe Diagnostic, Beckman Coulter and many more.