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Thursday 24th May 2018

Arab genome sequence completed

29th September 2008

Scientists in Saudi Arabia have completed their first sequencing of an Arab genome.


The project plans to map a total of 100 genomes to plot genetic variations in Arab people.

Extensive studies have been carried out into genetic differences in Africans, Asians and Europeans, according to the three partners, Saudi Biosciences, the Beijing Genomics Institute Shenzhen, and the Denmark-based bioinformatics solution provider CLC bio.

This study hopes to add to the diversity of knowledge of human evolution by mapping the genetic development of 400 million Arabs, who are located along historical human migration routes.

Saeed Al-Turki, project coordinator at Saudi Biosciences, said he hoped the project would help to fill some gaps in the big picture.

Preliminary data has shown some interesting genetic differences, raising the hope of narrowing down causative variants for some common diseases like type 2 diabetes, which is a major health problem in the Middle East, he said.

The completed Arab gene sequences will be added to the open access database GenBank along with other more specific international, regional and national databases.

They will be a vital source of information for Arab medical scientists and health professionals seeking to develop cost-effective strategies for preventing, diagnosing and treating diseases, according to Abdelaziz Sefiani, professor of medical genetics at the Morocco-based National Institute of Health of Rabat and founder of the Moroccan Human Mutation Database.

Experts say that finding links between human genes and certain diseases will help in developing genetic tests to identify people at risk and to tailor treatments to their genetic makeup.

But some regional experts have warned of possible negative legal, ethical and social consequences to the study.

Princess Nisreen El-Hashemite, medical scientist and executive director of the Royal Academy of Science International Trust called on Arab states to establish adequate legal measures and ethical guidelines as well as analysing the social impact of the availability of personal genetic information before delivering them to the public, and to medical communities.

Al-Turki said following completion of the data analysis, data from the first genome would be published at the beginning of 2009.

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