Genetics Centre - Latifa Hospial, Dubai

UAE Awards

Hamdan Award for an Outstanding Clinical Department in the Public Sector in UAE
2005-2006
Inaugurated in 1995 under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid AI-Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and Industry, President of the Department of Health and Medical Services, the Genetics Center is the only one of its kind in the Middle East and the Arabian Gulf region. It offers quality services in the diagnosis and management of known and rare genetic diseases under strict medical supervision by highly specialized staff. The Center has eventually attracted numerous patients from within the United Arab Emirates and from abroad.
The Center seeks early detection of dominant and recessive genetic disorders, and racerelated disorders and others inherited as a result of defect in or damage (mutation) to both alleles of the gene. An individual is described as carrier if the other copy of the gene is normal. Should both alleles be defective or damaged the individual is considered suffering a genetic disease.
 
Accordingly, the patient and his/her family are examined to determine their health status. Data is collected and documented in a single family file to be used as a reference when planning for a new pregnancy. In this way, the fetus is subjected to an early examination (in the first few weeks of pregnancy) to ascertain whether or not it carries the disease or has developed it.
 
The Center consists of three specialized branches: The Molecular Genetics Unit, the Biochemical (Metabolic) Genetics Unit, and the Cellular Genetics Unit. The three units offer competitive medical services under strict diagnostic supervision on par with international scientific centers.
 
 
Center's Accomplishments
 
Over the last few years, the Center received samples from various hospitals and special health centers in the United Arab Emirates as well as from medical bodies outside it. Thirty cases of different and rare genetic diseases have been diagnosed, including inborn errors of metabolism in various age categories. These cases were published in international medical journals as well as in specialized newspapers and magazines, and were also presented at a number of international conferences.
 
Through tests involving 50.000 patients, 5.000 cases of chromosome disorders have been diagnosed. 
Through the examination of 5,000 fetal samples (tests on the amniotic fluid and the chronic villi biopsy) early fetal examination was conducted and 1.000 cases of diseases resulting from chromosomal disorders have been identified and diagnosed.
 
For the first time at an international level, five types of absent or deletions in various chromosomes have been identified and registered, and this is one of the most important of theCenter's achievements
 
International recognition of the identification of a new gene mutation arrived at through the microarray technology. 
Training in, and official announcement and implementation of early fetal examination (i.e. fetus examination in the early weeks of pregnancy) in     2005. This practice helps check the spread of Thalassemia, a most dreaded disease with moral and material implications for both citizens and the state as its management costs much every month. Pre-marital examination, a practice that was later made compulsory for nationals and residents alike. It is being implemented in collaboration with the Dubai Court of justice with a view to detect a number of current and genetic diseases, particularly Thalassemia and sickle cell disease.
 
The Center is the first of its kind in the United Arab Emirates to have undertaken a study on Alpha-Thalassemia and G6PD deficiency among newborn babies within the context of a national program. The program has revealed a high rate of Alpha-Thalassemia cases (about 50 percent of the population). This disease leads, in turn, to mild anemia and was previously wrongly diagnosed as lack of iron in the body.
 
•     The Center was the first to discover than one in every 12 nationals in the UAE carries the genes responsible for hemoglobinopathies, especially Beta-Thalassemia (minor). 
•     Currently, the Center diagnoses leukemia. It receives blood samples from the various hospitals of the state and uses RNA technology.
 
The Center is unique in diagnosing numerous cases of mental retardation referred by centers for people with special needs and autistic children. Doctors may labor under the delusion that these cases result from Fragile X, but the diagnosis determines the real factor(s) by means of special and elaborate methods using patients' DNA.
 
The United Arab Emirates is perhaps the country with the highest mutational variations of the genes responsible for Thalassemia. Fifty different mutations have been identified through subjecting patients of different nationalities to DNA examination at the Thalassemia Center. The UAE has one of the highest Thalassemia rates all over the world.
 
•     The Center is the first and only to have diagnosed the sickle cell anemia and management thereof by means of Haplotyping technology for UAE citizens and other Gulf nationals from the Sultanate of Oman and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 
•    The Center has conducted successful breast cancer tests by using the molecular gene technology.
 
 
Plans and Future Vision
 
•    Launching a project involving a national study on the detection of breast cancer at family level in the United Arab Emirates.
•     Developing services related to the control of genetic diseases by using the PGD technology before pregnancy fixation to ensure the birth of healthy babies. 
•     Launching an integrated national program for the prevention of genetic diseases and checking their spread in collaboration with numerous local bodies. The first step would be compulsory examination before marriage ( in conjunction with the Dubai Court of Justice). Other plans would involve other bodies. 
• Launching a medical survey program involving carriers of Beta- Thalassemia genes, sickle cell anemia and many other genetic diseases, diagnosis of these during pregnancy and offering medical advice to families. 
•    Procuring the most up-to-date technologies, materials and modalities used in the diagnosisof genetic diseases.
•    Diagnosis of most types of cancer using DNA and other innovative technologies.
•    Developing new tests to avoid sending samples abroad (such as molecular cancer and chromosome and metabolic diseases), thus reducing cost and saving time. 
•     Developing diagnostic testing from the classical methods to elaborate ones, especially with regard to metabolic and chromosome diseases, so that such testing is done at DNA level. 
•     Using the Microarray technology to detect several diseases otherwise undetectable through conventional methods.