DoH, M42 launch region’s largest hybrid cord blood bank

Posted on 14-05-2024

ABU DHABI, 14th May, 2024 (WAM) -- The Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH) and M42 have collaborated to launch the Abu Dhabi Biobank, with its first offering being the region's largest hybrid cord blood bank.

Reinforcing the Emirate's position as a leading destination for life sciences, the initiative aims to shorten waiting times for treatment, increase therapeutic access for patients, improve survival rates and reduce the economic burden on governments.

Announced at the inaugural Abu Dhabi Global Healthcare Week 2024 where M42 is participating as the Foundation Partner, the Abu Dhabi Biobank is part of the emirate's vision of building a unique global biobanking hub delivering invaluable data assets for maximal impact on people's health.

It will be a key pillar of health transformation and aims to deliver excellence by creating a diverse, foundational, bio-asset that supports therapeutic treatments, life science research for medical innovation, novel drug discovery targets and disease prevention to deliver the highest level of personalised, precise, and preventative healthcare for all.

The service will be introduced across four leading healthcare entities committed to maternal and child health across Abu Dhabi. Prospective parents can avail themselves of this service at Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women & Children, part of the M42 group, Corniche Hospital, Kanad Hospital, and hospitals as part of NMC Healthcare.

Dr. Noura Khamis Al Ghaithi, Undersecretary of DoH, said that the wealth of biological and medical data amassed by the Biobank will catalyse scientific breakthroughs, expediting drug discovery, thus contributing to the Emirate's ability to find solutions for local and global health challenges. It will significantly impact clinical care and patient outcomes, emphasising cord-derived stem cell therapies and enabling local stem cell therapy delivery.

She added, "The Abu Dhabi Biobank's ability to link cord blood, tissue, stem cells, and a wide range of normal and pathological human specimens with established large genomic, proteomics and clinical records sets the scene for transformative and cutting-edge initiatives."

An important advancement for the nation's health ecosystem, the cord blood bank of Abu Dhabi Biobank will enable better care outcomes, build the nation's self-sufficiency in meeting the urgent need for cord blood stem cells, and further enhance regional capabilities in research and innovation.

Stem cells work like a 'bio repair kit', helping to heal, restore and replenish other cells that can be used to treat certain haematological and immune system disorders, like leukaemia, lymphoma and bone marrow diseases requiring a transplant.

With a capacity to store 100,000 cord blood samples and five million pan-human samples, the Biobank will create a rich, diverse dataset that can provide ready and better-matched hemopoietic stem cells globally. It aims to enhance community well-being through preventive measures and access to advanced, high-quality health services.

Abu Dhabi Biobank's cord blood bank facility, situated in M42's Omics Centre of Excellence, is equipped with state-of-the-art automated technology and the best large-capacity biobanking infrastructure. This infrastructure will preserve samples safely and securely, thereby making them viable for research and therapeutic use for 30 years.

Ashish Koshy, Group Chief Operating Officer of M42, said, "The Abu Dhabi Biobank will foster global innovation in therapy development, as it holds huge potential for regenerative medicine, aiding in rare disease treatment, genetic screening, early detection, and scientific research. We're proud to partner with DoH on this initiative, and we look forward to collaborating with them and other healthcare providers to drive progress in health and reinforce Abu Dhabi's position as a global life science hub."

The cord blood bank locally collects and preserves umbilical cord cells, offering donors the choice of preserving a newborn's stem cells at birth, for potentially lifesaving treatments at no risk to them or their baby.

Expectant mothers can preserve their baby's cord blood by opting for a safe, secure, painless, and non-intrusive process that can save lives and help build a healthier nation. They will have the opportunity to preserve the stem cells as part of public or private banking.