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Abu Dhabi to launch first public umbilical cord blood biobank in Masdar City

Wed 15 May 2024    
| 2 min read

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City is preparing to unveil a cutting-edge biobank next year, poised to revolutionize medical research in the region. Spanning an impressive 2,000 square meters, this state-of-the-art facility is anticipated to house the largest collection of human biomaterials in the area, encompassing blood, saliva, and cell samples.

A collaborative effort between M42 and the Department of Health, the biobank’s launch at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Global Healthcare Week signals a significant milestone in advancing scientific exploration and potentially discovering cures for prevalent diseases.

“The Abu Dhabi biobank aims to establish a comprehensive bio-repository,” Albarah Elkhani, senior vice president at M42, told agencies. “This facility will collect a variety of human biological materials alongside associated data to aid in research and, ultimately, drug discovery.”

According to Mr. Elkhani, tumor tissues from specific cancers, alongside blood, saliva, and cord blood, will be among the diverse array of samples stored at the center. This diverse collection will facilitate comprehensive assessments and targeted research initiatives aimed at identifying innovative treatments for various health issues.

“What makes this initiative stand out is its focus on cord-blood banking, which will be available both privately and publicly, making it the region’s first public cord-blood bank,” Mr Elkhani added. “By integrating genomic data with biological samples, we are creating an innovation hub that will allow for international collaboration, thereby ensuring our population is represented in global drug discovery efforts.”

Designed to cater to the entire region, the biobank aims to address the underrepresentation of Middle Eastern and Asian communities in global clinical trials and drug discovery efforts. Mr. Elkhani underscores the importance of obtaining informed consent from patients for cord-blood banking and hospital collections, ensuring ethical use of samples for research purposes.

“Our biobank will not only be a repository for samples but will also serve as a hub for data integration and analysis, aiding in drug discovery and research. This integration is crucial for the future success of the Abu Dhabi biobank,” he said.

Situated within the first net-zero building in Masdar City, the biobank is not solely focused on physical sample storage but also prioritizes the integration of diverse datasets.

“Regarding manpower, the facility is committed to employing the best local talent available while also placing a significant emphasis on developing national expertise,” Mr Elkhani said.

“Collaborations with universities are under way to develop programmes specifically tailored to biobanking. This strategy, developed in partnership with the Department of Health, aims to upskill Emiratis in this nascent scientific field, building local expertise through Master’s and PhD programmes designed to cultivate subject matter experts within the domain.”

Agency: The National

Also read: Dubai Central Laboratory adopts AI-powered technology to detect ‘Legionella’ bacteria

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