First Arab human
genome sequenced

An international consortium based in Saudi Arabia has completed an initial sequencing and analysis of the first Arab human genome, as part of a large project to sequence 100 Arab human genomes in an effort to map the unique genetic variations of the Arab population. The consortium consists of Saudi Biosciences, Beijing Genomics Institute Shenzhen and CLC bio.

According to Reuters it took just six months for the Arab Genome Project to complete the initial sequencing and analysis of its first volunteer, an anonymous tribal figure from Saudi Arabia. The Arab Genome Project says data will be made public once it has been published.

His Royal Highness Prince Ahmad bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Head of the Board of Directors at Saudi Biosciences, said: “This marks the first milestone in our goal to pioneer the personalised medicine era in the Arab world, and the next step is to lead a large project to sequence 100 Arab genomes at high resolution no later than the end of 2010. Our ambitions are to make this project go beyond similar international efforts, both in terms of quality and quantity!”

Dr Saeed Hussain from Saudi Bio Sciences, said: “We are extremely proud to present the first Arab human genome. This project launches the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in to the small circle of nations who are currently in the process of building sophisticated databases of human genetic variation. This database is fundamental in the process of analysing and understanding the specific genetic makeup of Arabs, which in turn will provide key knowledge to improve medical care for this large group of people.”


One of the most important goals of modern medicine and genetic research is the goal of tailoring medical care to an individual’s needs, based on information from the individual’s genotype or gene expression profile, so-called personalised medicine. Personalised medicine can offer huge advances in medical care but can only succeed if the genetic variation of humans can be accurately mapped.

The advent of a new generation of experimental techniques, has now given biomedical researchers the opportunity to map the complete genetic variation of large numbers of humans via full genome sequencing. The data produced from such efforts will provide an unparalleled amount of information that can be used to distinguish the unique groups within the human race, and help tailor medical care that targets the specific needs of different populations and individuals. Personalised medicine is thus on the brink of a major breakthrough.

However, the projects scheduled so far have aimed at characterising mainly three populations – Africans, Europeans and Asians. This means that an accurate characterisation and discovery of genetic variation in the Arab people can not be immediately expected and that the Arab populations may receive less of the benefits that will follow the advancement of personalised medicine.

According to a statement by Saudi Biosciences, the Arab Human Genomics database is fundamental in the process of analysing and recognising the distinct genetic makeup of Arabs, which in turn can provide knowledge to help stratify disease status, select between different medications and tailor their dosage, provide a specific therapy for an individual’s disease, or initiate a preventative measure that is particularly suited to that patient at the time of administration.

ate of upload: 16th November 2008

                                               Copyright © 2008 All Rights Reserved.