Abu Dhabi now has the region's largest hybrid cord blood bank - Abu Dhabi Biobank. Located in M42's Omics Centre of Excellence, Masdar City, the biobank has state-of-the-art automated technology and best-of-its-kind large-capacity biobanking infrastructure.

The facility can safely preserve as many as 100,000 cord blood samples and five million pan-human samples, making it viable for research and therapeutic use for 30 years. The biobank will create a diverse dataset to provide ready and better-matched hemopoietic stem cells globally.

Cord blood is the remains in the umbilical cord after a baby's birth. It is usually discarded, but it is rich in stem cells and can be used to treat many diseases, blood-related disorders, illnesses, immune deficiencies, genetic disorders, and stem cell transplants.

Announced at the Abu Dhabi Global Healthcare Week, the initiative aims to shorten waiting times for treatment, improve survival rates, and create a diverse, foundational bio-asset that supports treatments of rare diseases, early detection and disease prevention, life science research for medical innovation, and novel drug discovery targets. It will strive to deliver the highest personalised, precise, high-quality, and preventative healthcare for all.

The initiative is part of Abu Dhabi's vision of building a unique global biobanking hub that delivers invaluable data assets with a maximal impact on people's health.

Dr Noura Khamis Al Ghaithi, Undersecretary of the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi (DoH), noted the launch of the Abu Dhabi Biobank is poised to deliver biobanking excellence across the region.

"The wealth of biological and medical data amassed by the biobank will serve as a catalyst for 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 enable the delivery of local stem cell therapy delivery."

Facilities offering services

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

"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," Dr Al Ghaithi said.

Help in lifesaving treatment

The hybrid cord blood bank is part of the Abu Dhabi Biobank, which will include pan-human and tumour biobank in its next expansion phase. The cord blood bank 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.

Ashish Koshy, group chief operating officer, 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."

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 completely safe, secure, painless, and non-intrusive process that can potentially 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.

Prospective parents can email cordblood@m42.ae, call 800 213, or visit www.m42.ae for more details.

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