Spotlight on governance of human genome sequencing

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Dubai As part of the fourth annual meeting of the Global Future Councils, the Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) in the UAE held a roundtable discussion on the governance of human genome sequencing to highlight the major challenges faced by the public and private sectors in the areas of precision medicine, genome data management and health research.

The session hosted Noella Bigirimana, Strategic Advisor at Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Ministry of Health, Government of Rwanda; and Dr Surakameth Mahasirimongkol, Director of Medical Genetics Centre at Medical Life Sciences Institute, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand. The two speakers highlighted their countries’ experience in the field of genomics and precision medicine and stressed the need to strengthen international cooperation to improve human health globally.

The session came in line with the efforts of the C4IR to develop a systemic mechanism for the Human Genome project in the UAE and design future scenarios for the key challenges related to data privacy and accessibility in accordance with the local and global governance frameworks. It also aimed to enhance public awareness on the ethics of using data and employing technology positively. Precision medicine is one of the key fields addressed by the C4IR along with Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and blockchain.

The speakers discussed ways to enhance traditional drugs and medical treatments that may not be effective for specific group of individuals or population, stressing that precision medicine will provide the opportunity to customise personalised treatments based on genetic and biological characteristics and lifestyle of each patient.

This approach would guide healthcare decisions towards the most effective treatment for each patient, and improve care quality, while reducing the need for unnecessary diagnostic testing and therapies. Yet, it requires the concerted efforts of government, healthcare sector, academic and scientific institutions to ensure that maximizing the rapid evolution of precision medicine technologies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) tools.