German researchers look to conduct UAE clinical trials on quick TB breath analysers

german researchers look to conduct uae clinical trials on quick tb breath analysers

Dr Dirk Kuhlmeier, co-founder of Fraunhofer Project Centre, second from right, took part in a panel discussion hosted by Hayat Biotech in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Hayat Biotech

Researchers will conduct clinical trials in the UAE on a breath analyser that is said to be able to detect tuberculosis (TB) in minutes.

Currently, there are two kinds of tests used to detect TB bacteria in the body – a skin test and a blood test, both of which take time to produce results.

A senior executive from Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, a German research institution, said it is seeking approval to conduct clinical trials for the new breath analyser in the UAE and take advantage of the large variety of nationalities living in the Emirates.

“For us, luckily we can’t do the test in Germany at all, because we don’t have that many people having tuberculosis so it would be difficult to gain enough samples but here, you have many different nationalities to create the algorithm behind the diagnostics,” said Dr Dirk Kuhlmeier, head of microdiagnostics unit at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, speaking on Tuesday.

Dr Kuhlmeier was speaking at an event in Abu Dhabi hosted by UAE-based Hayat Biotech to discuss the future of the UAE healthcare system and the role of the emirate on the international stage. Hayat Biotech is a joint venture between Sinopharm CNBG and G42.

Abu Dhabi is currently hosting hundreds of clinical trials at the moment, with researchers making use of the Emirati Genome Programme, which aims to provide preventive and personalised health care for the Emirati population, and the Malaffi system which has unified health services and patient information.

In January, Abu Dhabi opened a clinical trials centre at Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City to further medical research and help to establish the capital as a global hub for medicine.

TB is a disease caused by germs that are spread from person to person through the air. It usually affects the lungs, but it can also affect other parts of the body, such as the brain, the kidneys, or the spine. A person with TB can die if they do not get treatment.

In the UAE, all resident expats must undergo TB screening while renewing their residence visas.

Those found with scars or active TB or found to have drug-resistant TB will be issued a “conditional fitness certificate” and be issued a one-year residence visa and have to undergo treatment.

The number of tuberculosis infections in the UAE increased by 0.1 cases per 100,000 people in 2021. In total, the number of tuberculosis infections amounted to 0.82 cases per 100,000 population in 2021.

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