In the UAE and elsewhere, great ideas are making health obstacles easier to overcome
Envision a future where cutting-edge technologies assist us in tackling major health issues, offering treatments tailored to the individual genetic makeup of each person.
The rapidly developing fields of life sciences and biotechnology can make this a reality by combining the power of biology, genetics and technology to address pressing health challenges.
The development of personalised medicine, based on a person’s unique genetic make-up and lifestyle factors, can significantly improve treatment efficacy and reduce side effects.
Improved early diagnosis and more effective treatments could become the norm by providing a better understanding of underlying genetic contributors in the fight against chronic diseases such as diabetes.
These technologies can create a range of health products and therapies, from bio-engineered tissues to next-generation vaccines – and at exponentially lower costs than traditionally needed for this sector.
Countries around the world are also incorporating generative artificial intelligence to rapidly improve innovation in life sciences.
A team at Massachusetts General Hospital recently developed an accurate method that relies on routinely collected clinical brain images.
The study used deep learning – a type of machine learning and artificial intelligence that uses large amounts of data and complex algorithms to train models.
Across all five datasets, the model was able to detect Alzheimer’s disease risk with 90.2 per cent accuracy.
Google DeepMind is using AI to predict the shape of a protein, almost instantly, down to atomic accuracy.
This process, called protein folding, is already helping with advancing drug discoveries, and is being used by researchers to search for a more effective malaria vaccine and overcome antibiotic resistance. In the coming years, it could save many millions of lives and trillions of dollars.
Meanwhile in China, Alibaba claimed its AI models could identify coronavirus infections with 96 per cent accuracy from CT scans.
MIT researchers in the US identified a powerful new antibiotic compound using a machine-learning algorithm.
More broadly, AI is set to transform areas including drug discovery and development, by analysing large data sets to predict how a drug will perform.
It can improve the diagnosis and treatment of diseases, by studying medical images to identify abnormalities more accurately than human doctors can.
Personalised treatment plans for patients can also be devised by AI, based on medical history and genetic make-up. AI is also being used to train healthcare professionals.
In the UAE, the industry is in its nascent stages. Yet it ranked 20th in the 2022 World Index for Healthcare and was the region’s leader in the 2022 Global Innovation Index (and 31st globally), while it also ranks first in three indexes related to education globally.
🔍 Read More: Ready to elevate your fitness journey? Dive deeper with our BMI Calculator, BMR Calculator, TDEE Calculator, and Body Fat Calculator. Uncover the science behind your health!
Established infrastructure includes a solid foundation of prominent entities such as Cleveland Clinic in health care, startAD & Hub71 in innovation, MBZUAI and NYUAD in education, among many others.
As a result of this progress, the UAE is on the cusp of a life sciences and biotechnology revolution.
By utilising generative AI, the nation can transform public health and research in the region and in the process, move towards becoming a global leader in health care.
The realisation of this vast potential requires an ecosystem that nurtures innovation. Here is a roadmap for how this might play out.
Our job is to ensure that there is a bridge between research and implementation, so that great ideas are turned into end products and thriving businesses.
At present, there is a clear gap in commercialisation efforts within the market, especially within universities across the UAE.
While educational institutions play a crucial role in equipping the next generation with skills and knowledge, we must find new ways to drive commercialisation, so that we can measure and reap economic and industry benefits from these research efforts.
Start-ups have a key role to play in closing this gap.
A vibrant biotech start-up ecosystem can drive innovation, create jobs and fuel economic growth.
Continued government support is needed along with a range of private sector support programmes for start-up commercialisation efforts.
Funding, mentorship and simplified regulations will all pave the way for pioneering biotechnologies that significantly improve public health.
For instance, start-ups could develop new diagnostic tools for diabetes, employing AI for personalised treatment plans and creating bio-engineered products for managing the disease.
By facilitating such advancements, start-ups can help reduce the burden of this all-too-common affliction.
Tech-focused start-ups could contribute by focusing on digital health, including mobile apps, wearable hardware and sensors that monitor and improve health outcomes.
Technological advances of this nature offer the potential to reduce our reliance on importing medical equipment and products.
To take another example, UAE universities, including NYU Abu Dhabi, are exploring the potential for 3D printing, which has endless commercial possibilities.
Support programmes have several benefits. For instance, The Vijay Lab in NYU Abu Dhabi’s Engineering Division utilizes 3D printing and Bioprinting for tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, drug testing, and medical devices.
Such programmes increase access to talent though a pool of highly skilled and motivated researchers. Partnership opportunities greatly increase by working with world-class universities.
And since there is a scarcity of commercialisation programmes, the first-mover advantage awarded to participants can help establish a strong regional presence.
It is for all these reasons that startAD, powered by Tamkeen and housed at NYU Abu Dhabi, is exploring strategic partnerships with leaders in the field to make the UAE a global leader of innovation and entrepreneurship in the field of biotechnology.
By investing in education, fostering a supportive environment for start-ups and promoting collaborations, the UAE can effectively tackle regional health challenges and significantly contribute to global health solutions.
The promise of these technologies is immense. It is time to embrace and unleash their full potential.
The opinions shared in the GymNation blog articles are solely those of the respective authors and may not represent the perspectives of GymNation or any member of the GymNation team.