Department of Health – Abu Dhabi and Novartis team up to explore genomics in oncology

Steven Loeb · June 7, 2024 · Short URL:

Cancer is the second leading cause of premature deaths in most Arab countries

DoH and Novartis to Partner to Advance Genomics Research in Oncology and BeyondIn 2020, there were over 430,000 new cancer cases reported in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with females in the Arab world being more affected by cancer than males. In fact, cancer is the second leading cause of premature deaths in most Arab countries, following cardiovascular disease; it is the leading cause of death in Lebanon, while in Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, cancer is one of the top three causes.

On Friday, the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), the regulator of the healthcare sector in the Emirate, announced at BIO 2024 International Convention that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with global pharmaceutical company Novartis Middle East FZE

Under the terms of the MoU, the entities will work together to advance solutions in multiple therapeutic areas, with two priority focus areas already outlined: advancing clinical genomics research for real-world evidence (RWE) and generating and disseminating evidence to support the understanding of radioligand therapy (RLT) for cancer patients. 

Novartis AG, a Swiss multinational pharmaceutical corporation, is one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world and was the fourth largest by revenue in 2022. Its medicines reach more than 250 million people worldwide.

The collaboration between the two organizations will include exploration of solutions and genomics research in oncology, cardiovascular disease, and neuroscience. In addition, they will work together to generate and disseminate evidence to support the awareness and understanding of radioligand therapy (RLT), a form of precision nuclear medicine that may recognize and treat disease in patients with advanced cancers.

Novartis and DoH will also explore solutions for local and regional health needs, including supporting the Emirati Genome Programme, a study which aims to explore the genetic makeup of Emiratis, by collaborating to raise awareness of genetic and rare diseases.

Finally, they will work together to support the further improvement of the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) through facilitated partnership and shared best practice; HTA is a universally established process to assess the incremental value of innovations.

The MoU was signed by Dr. Asma Ibrahim Al Mannaei, the Executive Director of the Research and Innovation Centre at DoH and Ibrahim Aqel, Head of Government Affairs and Value & Access – Gulf at Novartis, in the presence of Thierry Diagana, Head of Global Health and California Sites Head at Novartis Biomedical Research.

"Novartis has been a long-standing partner to the Department of Health, and we are proud to explore these new areas of opportunity to collaborate for the ultimate benefit of patients in the region and beyond. We believe that this partnership will allow us to further accelerate the field of personalised and precision medicine across important therapeutic areas," Dr. Al Mannaei said in a statement.

"As we continue to establish Abu Dhabi as a hub for global life science and a centre for innovative research, we are excited to work in synergy with our strategic partners, and combine our expertise in the pursuit of common goals."

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