A proven cure for cancer continues to elude medical science. While chemotherapy and radiation treatment can kill malignant tumors, they do not cure every patient and, despite the billions of dollars invested globally on research, cancer remains one of the world’s major causes of death.
Researchers are currently exploring innovative treatments that can eliminate cancer cells and their stem counterparts, with the aim of terminating the disease at its onset. In support of this effort, Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) signed a research collaboration agreement with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) earlier this month. Their new partnership is driven by a shared desire for further advancement in stem cell research, with the ultimate goal of preventing cancer from evolving to a life-threatening stage.
"The world loses millions of people to cancer, which is why Qatar Foundation strives to combat this disease,” said QF President of Research and Development, Faisal Mohammed Al Suwaidi. “The use of stem cells in researching new treatments has begun to prove its effectiveness, so we are undertaking more studies in this field. This will undoubtedly contribute to building a better future for mankind.”
The agreement was signed by Mr. Al Suwaidi and Professor Edward Hillhouse, HMC’s Senior Policy Advisor for Academic Health Systems and Acting Medical Director.
QF and HMC have participated in a number of joint research ventures in recent years. During the 2010 Fellowship Program on Stem Cell Science and Policy, exceptional students from QF participated in science lectures and laboratory demonstrations presented by world-renowned HMC scientists. This latest agreement provides a further illustration of a mutual commitment to harnessing stem cell research technology for the greater good, following the huge success of last month’s Qatar Stem Cell International Conference.
QF Vice President of Research and Deputy Director of Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), Dr. Abdelali Haoudi, commented, “Qatar Foundation, through the Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, has established a new research collaboration agreement with Hamad Medical Corporation, which has the potential to deliver major advances in the field of stem cell therapy applied to cancer. Our joint efforts will not only work to discover treatments designed to destroy cancer cells, but revolutionize the scientific approach to fighting disease in the future.”
Research will be conducted at Al Amal Hospital in Doha, with efforts concentrated on enhancing its reputation across the globe, particularly for its studies on leukemia.
“Stem cell research is a growing innovative field and one of the priority research areas for both QF and HMC,” said Dr. Hanadi Raffi Elayoubi, Head of the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit and Chief of Staff at Al Amal Hospital. “This research program does not only target leukemia, the top third cancer diagnosis in Qatar, but represents one of the first translational cancer research programs in HMC. We have the setting and the clinical program at Al Amal hospital that will allow the translation to bed site – to the patient. This is certainly a very important partnership initiated by QF to develop translational research that might impact patient's care.”
Scientists from both HMC and QBRI will work under the guidance of Dr. Salem Chouaib, Research Director at the French National Institute for Health and Biomedical Research, and Head of the Cancer Immunology Division at Paris-based Institut Gustave Roussy. Labeled the European leader in cancer research and treatment, the institute will also share its expertise as part of this agreement.
“I would really like to thank Qatar Foundation, particularly for their strategy to advance stem cell research, as it is a very noble field of study,” said Dr. Chouaib. “It was a crucial step to collaborate and build a partnership between Hamad Medical Corporation and Qatar Foundation and will surely help Qatar in this field, especially with cancer vaccines and cancer immunotherapy.”
Through his work, Dr. Chouaib seeks to transform theoretical concepts of cancer research into clinical application. As part of this agreement, he will work to foster a strong relationship between QF and other French scientists specializing in this area of study.
QF’s newly signed agreement with HMC will support QF on its mission to build human capacity in Qatar by ensuring that scientists have the necessary resources and means to explore alternative treatments for curing cancer.