Medical equipment

A Middle East Health-Care Revolution

As our understanding of genetics expands, it is becoming clear that our ancestral origins influence the safety and efficacy of certain medicines. The Middle East has a critical role to play in pharmaceutical clinical trials that investigate the role of such factors.

CAIRO – On a recent visit to Jordan and Egypt, as part of a trade mission led by the United States Department of Commerce, I was struck by the potential for the surrounding region to become a major hub for cutting-edge medicine. With the right policy mix and enough political will, the Middle East could become an important part of the world for health-care research. In particular, it has a critical role to play regarding pharmaceutical clinical trials designed to investigate the influence of patients’ region of ancestry on the safety, efficacy, and effectiveness of treatments.

As our understanding of genetics expands, it is becoming clear that our ancestral origins play a key role in determining the efficacy of certain medicines. For example, studies have shown that patients of European ancestry respond better to beta blockers and ACE inhibitors than those of African descent. And continental origins are often considered when selecting optimal antihypertensive and cardiovascular drug therapy.

Another example is warfarin, an anticoagulant. Research has found that patients of African descent require higher doses than those of European origins; patients with Asian ancestry require lower doses. Studies of tacrolimus, a drug used to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients, indicate that African-American patients require higher doses than their white peers.

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