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QU Health Students Discover Novel Approach to Treat Leukemic Cancer | Qatar University

QU Health Students Discover Novel Approach to Treat Leukemic Cancer


Doha, Qatar, 30 Jan 2018: Two undergraduate students from Qatar University College of Health Sciences (QU-CPH) Department of Biomedical Sciences, in collaboration with external researchers from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), innovated a unique approach to understand the underlying mechanism of a special type of leukemic cancer, by using an array of technology that looked into RNAs (Ribonucleic acid) in an abstract titled ‘Expression Profiling of Micro RNAs (MiRNAs) and Long Non-Coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) Patients in the State of Qatar’. The abstract was accepted in the conference of 59th American Society of Hematology annual meeting and published in a high impact (caliber) in the journal of BLOOD.
Students Salsabel Sami Elshami and Nada Mehdhar Nasser along with their peers from HMC studied the role of micro RNA and long von coding RNA in Chronic Myelocytic Leukemia (CML) for the first time. The study, first-of-its-kind in Qatar was supervised by Dr Pejman Hanifi-Moghaddam, the Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Dr Nader Al-Dewik, a Medical Technical Consultant. The study was funded by an internal student grant from Qatar University and UREP grant from QNRF, Qatar Foundation.
The team discovered that a specific type of IncRNAs are associated with disease phase and response to treatment, compared to healthy individuals using cutting edge technology of Next Generation Sequencing. As all cells have a copy of genetic material (DNA) that is read and converted to proteins, which makes up bulk of our body. The conversion to protein is done via a secondary genetic material called messenger RNA. However, there are other RNA that is copied from DNA that is not used to make any protein. These are called non coding RNA (ncRNA). Up until now ncRNAs were considered as “junk” RNA. Furthermore, these ncRNA was shown to play an important role in other type of cancer study.
A graduate student in the biomedical sciences department, Mrs Kholoud Aljassim, is further studying these promising results. Commenting on the study, Salsabel Sami Elshami said: “It was a great opportunity to have my graduation project in such a creative environment. We learned many valuable things from our strong team work.”
Head of Research and Graduate Studies at College of Health Sciences, Dr Maha Al-Asmakh said: “The College of Health Sciences will continue to deliver on its vision to have such outstanding students who wish to explore new horizons and seek solutions through research in order to contribute to the growth of the healthcare sector in Qatar and the fulfillment of Qatar National Vision 2030.”