In an ambitious project designed to eradicate and prevent genetic abnormalities, the Dubai administration will test the DNA of the entire population. The project will be part of 10 initiatives of the megalopolis authorities.
In Dubai, they plan to test the DNA of all 3 million inhabitants as part of a project to improve the health of the nation.
Local media reported that the Dubai Healthcare Association (DAZ) intends to create a gene database for all its residents, including non-citizens. Then it will create a unique artificial intelligence that will analyze the data and predict the diseases before they manifest.
The city administration says that they want to “update” the process of genetic research. Instead of studying the genetics of the affected patient, the AI will look at the database in search of people who have not yet fallen ill with similar genetic profiles at risk, the project website reports.
The project has significant goals
The city will also work with pharmaceutical companies to develop methods for treating genetic diseases. Before the project there are very ambitious tasks. The authorities aim to stop and eliminate genetic abnormalities; prevent disease, affecting the lifestyle of people at risk; and also to help the introduction of personalized medical care, which will make Dubai the leader in genetic medicine.
It is not yet clear whether the genetic studies of all residents will be conducted in Dubai, or whether they will fully examine the DNA of most of them with selective testing of the remaining ones. All the same, checking all three million citizens is extremely difficult.
Even the UK, whose bio-research programs are among the most extensive in the world, plans to attract only half a million Britons to DNA research.
According to Numaid Mohammed al-Qatami, DAZ’s general director, the first phase of the project will take two years and will consist of collecting DNA samples and creating appropriate laboratories.
It is not yet clear how the personal data of the participants will be protected and it is not known what demands will be made to them.
Assistance in the treatment of diseases in the region
The country has 220 diseases associated with genetic disorders, responsible for 70 percent of deaths of children under the age of six, according to the health department.
It is known that almost half of the population of the Emirates is struck by thalassemia, a genetic disease of the blood. This disease is a common occurrence for Middle Eastern countries.
The UAE has already introduced compulsory medical examinations before marriage, including the detection of genetic diseases so that couples do not pass these deviations to their children. Many other countries in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar, also introduce the same physical examinations.
According to research conducted in 2015, such programs are not particularly effective in preventing marriages between people at risk. However, it was found that in countries that introduced antenatal care and abortions for medical reasons, many kinds of children with genetic disorders were prevented.
The Dubai initiative will lead to the identification of health problems specific to the region and emphasize the extent to which environmental factors are interrelated with genetics.