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Saudi Arabia launches Genetic Code Mapping Project

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Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has launched a genetic code mapping project aimed at identifying the basis of chronic diseases prevalent in the Kingdom. The Saudi Human Genome Program will be run by Saudi researchers, in cooperation with the US Life Technologies Corporation, at the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). “The program aims to identify the causes of prevalent chronic diseases in Saudi Arabia,” Prince Muqrin Bin Abdul Aziz, the Second Deputy Prime Minister, said. The program will work over five years on sequencing 100,000 human genomes to study both normal and disease-associated genes specific to the Saudi population, said a statement by Life Technologies. “This genomic variant data will be fully analyzed and used to create a Saudi-specific database that will provide the basis for future development of personalized medicine in the Kingdom,” it said. The sequencing will be performed using Life Technologies’ semi-conductor-based Ion Proton DNA sequencer. This wealth of information, provided with the full consent of participants, will also enable clinicians in the future to offer premarital and prenatal screening for rare diseases, which will facilitate preventive medicine and decrease the emotional, social and economic burden of rare birth defects. The data will also enable worldwide population studies to understand and compare population-specific influences leading to normal and harmful variants, common and rare mutations.