Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital Initiates A Breakthrough Spinal Muscular Atrophy Study

Updated: Mar 19

Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, the UAE’s first and only hospital dedicated to treating children and adolescents, launches the region’s first study into the epidemiology of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), an autosomal recessive inherited disease and a leading genetic cause of death for sufferers under the age of two years.


Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital Initiates A  Breakthrough Spinal Muscular Atrophy Study

The advanced study will focus on the epidemiology of the disease in the UAE. It will take the form of a screening program to be led by Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital’s state-of-the-art Genomics Centre – the UAE’s first clinical genomics hub in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, Dubai Health Authority, and private hospitals, who are facilitating the recruitment of 6,500 newborns across over 10 public and private maternity hospitals in the UAE. SMA genetic screening for all those infants will be conducted at Al Jalila Children’s Genomics Center.


“As part of Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital’s steadfast support of the UAE’s National Advanced Sciences Agenda 2031 in addressing health challenges, this will be a breakthrough research study for the UAE as, to date, no such large-scale population-based studies into SMA epidemiology has been performed. The research takes us one step closer to achieving our goal in becoming the region’s leading pediatric hospitals,” said Dr Abdulla Ibrahim Al Khayat, Chief Executive Officer of Al Jalila Children's Specialty Hospital.

Genomics is being integrated into healthcare and is becoming an essential tool to diagnose, manage, and treat patients. Al Jalila Children’s Hospital Genomics Centre is strengthening the UAE’s efforts towards combatting genetic diseases through building much-needed genomic diagnostic and screening capacities,” Dr Al Khayat added.


Dr Mohammed Al Awadhi, Chief Operating Officer for Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital
Dr Mohammed Al Awadhi, Chief Operating Officer for Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital

“I would like to thank our valued partners, the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention and Dubai Health Authority, for their help in facilitating our work with the private hospital sector and giving children and parents the chance to be a part of this truly groundbreaking step towards better understanding SMA - ultimately helping save lives in the future. This collaboration also embodies our leadership's vision to create a world-class healthcare system and underlines the importance of PPP for the ongoing development of healthcare services,” said Dr Mohammed Al Awadhi, Chief Operating Officer for Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital.

News of the study comes as Al Jalila Genomics Centre celebrates its first anniversary following its launch by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in 2020.


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Over the past year, Al Jalila Genomics Centre has provided several genomic testing and counselling programmes for children and adults and supported doctors with its diagnostics laboratory, fully equipped clinic, and a team of certified experts in precision medicine.


Al Jalila Genomics Centre is accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP). It uses advanced molecular technologies and bioinformatics pipelines to interpret genomic data consistent with the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMGG) guidelines.


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