UAE – Burjeel Holdings and California-based biotechnology company BridgeBio Pharma Inc have signed a preliminary, non-binding collaboration agreement to accelerate the development of rare disease treatments.

The partnership between Burjeel Holdings and BridgeBio Pharma aims to revolutionize the field of early diagnosis and treatment of patients with rare diseases in the United Arab Emirates and beyond.

Under this agreement, the two entities will work closely on a collaborative project called ‘NADER’ (Needs Assessment and Therapeutics Development for Rare Diseases – ‘nader’ meaning ‘rare’ in Arabic).

The NADER project will be conducted in multiple phases, starting from mapping rare diseases in the UAE and the wider region through innovative risk assessment algorithms and moving towards clinical trials with transformative medicines.

In a press release, Dr. Khaled Musallam, Group Chief Research Officer of Burjeel Holdings and project lead, said: “Our ultimate goal from project ‘NADER’ is to link patients to evolving treatment options through clinical trials of small molecules and gene therapies.”

Through the NADER project, Burjeel Holdings and BridgeBio will work collaboratively to identify patients with several rare diseases, and ultimately, improve patient outcomes.

Under the terms of the new agreement, the NADER project will also allow the identification of patients who have already been diagnosed but do not currently have access to cutting-edge therapies or clinical trial options.

Burjeel Holdings and BridgeBio are set to launch operations in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to conduct clinical trials and research, leveraging the Emirate’s advanced infrastructure for innovation and life science.

As a leader in the field of genetic disease patient care, BridgeBio will help to ensure more patients have access to novel treatments, clinical trials, and capabilities.

The launch of the NADER project aligns with the Department of Health’s ongoing efforts to advance early diagnosis and treatment of various diseases.

It will build on the Department’s vision of securing health for all people while accelerating healthcare outcomes for the benefit of the global community.

Commenting on the project launch, Dr. Asma Ibrahim Al Mannaei, Executive Director of the Research and Innovation Center at the DoH, said: “We remain committed to empowering healthcare providers in the Emirate with the means to lead research studies and conduct clinical trials to map out a path towards discovery and breakthrough healthcare in the Emirate and beyond.”

Backed by the Department of Health, the NADER project will accelerate progress in the deployment of transformative medicine to safeguard the health and well-being of community members.

This clinical research is anticipated to play a key role in increasing access to BridgeBio’s state-of-the-art pharmacologic and gene therapies for rare disease patients in the UAE.

Speaking on the partnership’s potential to transform the way rare diseases are identified, Mr. John Sunil, Chief Executive Officer of Burjeel Holdings, said: “Project ‘NADER’ marks a significant milestone in our commitment to delivering the best possible care to our patients.”

In the pilot phase, the two entities intend to utilize innovative risk assessment algorithms that will be deployed through the healthcare provider’s secure internal data to identify patients at risk for specific rare diseases.

The first phase will aim to set the roadmap to providing novel treatment options for identified patients through clinical trials.

The project will also focus on the analysis of vast amounts of data to identify patterns and markers associated with the diseases and generate personalized risk scores for patients, followed by genetic testing to confirm the diagnosis of identified potential patients.

It will combine Burjeel’s expertise in healthcare delivery and outreach with BridgeBio’s vast expertise in delivering breakthrough therapies for rare diseases to deliver novel healthcare solutions in the UAE.

By combining our strengths, we seek to address the challenges faced in the identification of rare diseases, which often go undiagnosed until symptoms become severe. The project will enable early interventions whether in the form of established treatments or novel therapies,” stated Mr. Sunil.

Additionally, Burjeel Holdings and BridgeBio will jointly launch awareness campaigns and education activities about rare diseases to provide additional support to the mapping activity.

Burjeel Holdings and BridgeBio intend to explore new opportunities for the development of local partnerships to facilitate wider implementation as well as encourage collaborations with healthcare providers.

Consequently, Burjeel Holdings will deploy the NADER project across its widespread hospitals and medical centers across the UAE as part of routine diagnostic care.

Burjeel Holdings has pledged its commitment to expand the NADER project through its growing healthcare infrastructure in the United Arab Emirates.

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