A Sidra Medicine Study reveals Arab And Middle Eastern Populations' Genetic Landscape

A Sidra Medicine Study reveals Arab And Middle Eastern Populations’ Genetic Landscape

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Research Has Significant Ramifications for Arab Genomic Medicine.

A high-resolution genetic map of Arab and Middle Eastern populations has been published by researchers in Qatar, offering fresh perspectives on the history of the human race in the area and ancestral patterns that could help to explain regional human traits and disease risks.

Notably, the study published in Nature Communications shows that ancient populations in the Arabian Peninsula were far more significant than previously thought in the story of early human migration out of Africa.

Genetic Ancestry

It is the first extensive analysis of the genetics of Arab and Middle Eastern populations. An international team created it under the direction of Dr Younes Mokrab and Dr Khalid Fakhro from Sidra Medicine in Qatar in collaboration with the Qatar Genome Programme. More than 6,000 people’s DNA samples from Qatar were analysed, and their genomes were compared to ancient DNA and genomes from other modern-day populations.

Precision medicine designed to address the disease risks specific to people with Middle Eastern ancestry is made possible by understanding the genetics of these under-characterised populations.

Essential New Historical and Social Insights into Arab Populations Were Revealed by The Study.

  • Around 90,000 years ago, a population split from early Africans, and then between 30 and 42,000 years ago, the ancestors of today’s Arab, European, and South Asian people emerged. The discovery is that Neanderthal DNA is much more uncommon in Arab populations than in populations that later mixed with ancient humans.
  • 12-20,000 years ago, Arab ancestral populations split, resulting in settling and Bedouin communities as Arabia aridified.
  • Comparing modern genomes to Paleolithic and Neolithic DNA. Peninsular Arabs are the closest relatives of ancient Middle Eastern ‘Basal Eurasian’ farmers and hunter-gatherers.
  • The study discovered extremely high homozygosity rates, which are probably due to the tribal nature of Arab cultures and indicate the suitability of this population in identifying new disease risk genes.

Largest Arab Genomic Dataset

According to Dr Mokrab, head of the Medical and Population Genomics lab at Sidra Medicine, assistant professor of genomic medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine Qatar, and a member of the Qatar Foundation, their comprehensive genetic analyses of 6,218 Qatari genomes make use of the largest Middle Eastern dataset available to date.

The population of Qatar is relatively small, but researchers have found that people there have a variety of ancestries that can be traced to Europe, Asia, Africa, and even South America. Notably, they discovered a distinct group of Peninsular Arabs, the oldest population in the contemporary Middle East; this has significantly enhanced their understanding of the genetic diversity of people.

Professor Asma Al Thani of the Qatar Genome Program stated that, as Qatar hold responsibility as a producer of the largest genomic dataset in the region, they are learning more and more every day how well-suited Qatar is as a stand-in for the diverse Arab world. Future findings from this population will significantly impact precision medicine for millions of Arabs worldwide.

To represent their region of the world and close many knowledge gaps regarding the genomics of Middle Eastern populations, they created the Genome Programme. This research beautifully illustrates the role they play.