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Qatar Plans Large DNA Biobank

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Qatar plans to start a large biobank through a collaboration with Imperial College London that will house biological samples and genetic, environmental, and medical data from as many as 100,000 volunteers.

Announced at a press conference held during a Qatari state visit to the UK this week, the Qatar Biobank will be used to compare genetic information and data on lifestyle and environment in an effort to discover potential biomarkers for use in diagnosing and potentially preventing diseases.

The Qatar Biobank is being established by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science, and Community Development and Qatar's Supreme Council of Health, and Imperial College London is providing expertise for the design and implementation of the project.

The Biobank will conduct DNA extraction activities and will house DNA and RNA in serum and plasma and blood samples. It will be the first "very large" population-based study involving the collection of biological samples in an Arabic country, and will enable researchers to study genetic and environmental links to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

"Qatar is an extremely interesting population from a medical point of view," Elio Riboli said in a statement. "It's a population in rapid transition towards more Western lifestyles. Qatar is home to residents from different regions of the world, which means we can look at disease risk factors in multiethnic populations in detail and on a very large scale."

Hanan Al Kuwari, chair of the Biobank Steering Committee, said that the Biobank will work with the Qatari government to identify health targets and areas where more investments may be required.

"This will enable Qatar not only to practice evidence-based medicine but also evidence-based public health," he said.

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