UAE- Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical multinational that is currently involved in cell and gene therapy innovation, has been able to assist five young patients from the UAE who were facing the threat of progressive blindness.

Dr Ahmed Baly, chief scientific officer at Novartis Gulf, during a presentation on cutting-edge cell and gene therapy innovations titled ‘Remaining Medicine’ at Expo 2020 Dubai said: “These five young individuals would have suffered progressive loss of sight. Our one-time treatment based on cell and gene therapy was successfully able to prevent further deterioration of their sight, providing great relief to the individuals and their families and caregivers.”

Marina Al Bada, in charge of Public Affairs in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, demonstrated the unique four-pillar approach of the pharma company to those in attendance.

Al Bada said: “The four pillars include the deployment of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence, Cell and Gene Therapy, Building Trust with Society, and making health care accessible to the patient community.”

Novartis has helped patients suffering from diseases such as sickle cell anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, blindness, cardiovascular disease, and oncology by making medicines available to low-income groups, particularly in third-world countries.

Dr Farouk said: “We work in close collaboration with UAE health-care officials and are collaborating on several clinical researches in the country. The UAE is very supportive of innovations and as soon as a drug gets EMEA and US FDA approval, UAE immediately grants approval to bring relief to its patients.”

How cell and gene therapy works

Rather than simply managing symptoms, cell and gene therapies are designed to halt or reverse disease progression. These are frequently one-time treatments that may alleviate the underlying cause of a disease and have the potential to cure specific conditions.

The exact gene causing recalcitrant genetic disease that is unresponsive to treatment is identified using artificial intelligence. It is then extracted and replaced by an adenovirus vector carrying wholesome gene after it has been stripped of its pathogenicity.

The vector carrying the missing protein reintroduced in the human DNA segment that is ineffective or missing the protein causing the disease.

The burden of genetic disease on a country and the emotional toll it takes on the family are immense. With these one-time treatments that cut costs and save patients the stress of dealing with life-long trauma, patients will get relief across the globe.

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