The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulator of the healthcare sector in the emirate, has launched the first Personalised Precision Medicine Programme for oncology in the region, in collaboration with Mubadala Health and its flagship, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, NYU Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence and G42 Healthcare.

The move builds on DoH’s mission to drive the future of the healthcare sector with the very latest technology and position Abu Dhabi as an innovation hub in life sciences.

Using cutting-edge, artificial intelligence-based technologies, the new programme will focus its first phase on breast cancer patients across the emirate. It will target oncology diseases, building on the latest research and model of care to detect, diagnose and treat breast cancer patients, or reduce the risk or recurrence of the disease.

H.E. Dr. Jamal Mohammed Al Kaabi, Undersecretary of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, said: “Under the directives of our wise leadership, Abu Dhabi continues to strengthen its position as a leading destination for advanced healthcare, as well as an incubator for innovation in life sciences. By integrating predictive, personalised and precision medicine using genomics we can take the entire process of diagnostics, drug therapy and prevention, and tailor it to the needs of the specific individual.”

The programme aims to develop the required research infrastructure to position the UAE as a leader in global genomics balancing discovery and clinical research. Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence and NYU Abu Dhabi are leading the collaborative research efforts that support the application of genome science in oncology medicine in alignment with DoH’s innovation and research strategy. Through a well-designed computational architecture and dynamic health information governance model; a world leading research infrastructure will be developed.

Al Kaabi added: “Along with our partners we are working on effectively developing, evaluating and introducing these innovative therapeutics and pharmaco-genetics, targeting oncology diseases, especially breast cancer mutations. By using data-driven healthcare services and research, we are evolving the oncology diseases research landscape, incorporating the rich, multi-factorial data, to reduce the prevalence of breast cancer, enhance the treatment and significantly reduce the risks associated with the patient’s lifestyle.”

Department of Health - Abu Dhabi developed the regulatory policies and worked with Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi to design the programme with core focus on development of clinical testing guidelines and utilising the collected genome data to create customised treatment plan and genomics counselling for its breast cancer patients who are meeting the programme’s criteria.

Hasan Jasem Al Nowais, Chief Executive Officer, Mubadala Health, said: “As the leading healthcare network in Abu Dhabi, Mubadala Health is excited to be a key partner of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi’s (DoH) Personalised Precision Medicine Programme for oncology, a regional first. Along with our partner, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, we look forward to playing a central role in the advancement of the breast cancer clinical testing and screening to enhance the quality of life of our patients by using science-based risk assessment and tailored prevention care plans. We are confident that our work will contribute to DoH’s efforts in spearheading the growth and development of the healthcare sector, positioning Abu Dhabi as a centre for medical innovation and technological advances within the UAE and wider region.”

Dr. Stephen Grobmyer, Chair of the Oncology Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, a Mubadala Health partner, said: “Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s extensive experience and expertise into genetic counselling and testing, positions the organization well to collaborate with the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi’s (DoH) Personalised Precision Medicine Programme for oncology.” The first phase of the programme specifically targets the most common form of cancer in the UAE, breast cancer, enabling customized cancer prevention plans for high risk patients and treatment plans for select breast cancer patients. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi looks forward to supporting DoH’s drive to cement the Emirate as the hub for innovation and precision medicine. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies and data collected from the Abu Dhabi Genome Program, this collaboration will allow us to develop and launch clinical testing guidelines that will help existing and future breast cancer patients through individual genetic profiling.”

As part of the agreement, G42 Healthcare will provide gene sequencing and a clinical genetic report within two weeks of receiving the patient data from Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. It will also collaborate with Mubadala Health’s National Reference Laboratory to ensure that the final genetic report is in line with the required standards of care at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi.

Dr. Fahed Al Marzooqi, Chief Operating Officer, G42 Healthcare, said, “We are proud to be the partner of choice in this pioneering multi-stakeholder programme that will lead to the launch of innovation in oncology precision medicine, leading the way in defining preventative strategies in the UAE. G42 Healthcare will support this initiative fronted by Biogenix Labs, region’s largest and most advanced Omics facility.

By providing genetic testing and sequencing technologies for precision oncology therapies, we hope to make testing easily accessible and available for oncology patients. As the programme grows in scale, this will facilitate early detection and treatment, bring in cost efficiencies, ensure better prediction, prevention, and treatment of genetic and chronic illnesses for patients”, he added.

Breast cancer was the most common form of the disease in the UAE in 2020, with 1,030 new cases, according to the World Health Organization’s Global Cancer Observatory. As of the end of 2020, there were 7.8 million women alive globally who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous five years, making it the world's most prevalent cancer.