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Abu Dhabi manufactures UAE’s first CAR-T cell to treat young leukemia patient

Specialists in Abu Dhabi have successfully manufactured what they say is the UAE’s first CAR-T cells – a revolutionary blood cancer treatment in which a patient’s own cells are engineered to hunt down and wipe out their disease – to treat an 11-year-old boy with leukemia.

Abu Dhabi Stem Cells Center (ADSCC) helped treat the child, Murad, who was first diagnosed with leukemia more than five years ago.

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While Murad went into remission, the leukemia returned earlier this year. He underwent chemotherapy but failed to respond to treatment.

At that point, CAR-T cell therapy was the only treatment option available for him, said the ADSCCC.

The procedure involved manufacturing the cellular product (CAR-T), which relies on the use of immune cells from the patient and led to a five-week treatment plan.

CAR T-cell therapy (or chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy) is a form of immunotherapy and involves transforming T-cells into cancer-seeking agents.

A patient is connected to a machine reminiscent of dialysis equipment, which siphons a portion of their blood and isolates the T-cells. The remaining blood is then returned to the patient’s body.

Subsequently, in a laboratory setting, these T-cells undergo a sophisticated genetic makeover to become proficient hunters, specifically programmed to target and eradicate the patient’s cancer.

This transformation is accomplished through the use of an inactivated virus, facilitating the insertion of genetic instructions directing the cells to produce a specialized protein known as a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR). This CAR protein is designed to recognize a particular protein present in the patient’s cancer cells.

The T-cells are then meticulously multiplied in the lab, and are then administered to the patient via an intravenous drip.

Once introduced into the patient’s system, these specialized cells are expected to hone in on cancer cells that harbor the target protein, effectively destroying them. Promisingly, these CAR T-cells are anticipated to persist within the patient’s body as a ‘living drug’, acting as a safeguard against the resurgence of cancer.

Dr. Yendry Ventura, CEO of ADSCC, said: “Our success in creating CAR-T therapy right here in Abu Dhabi marks a momentous leap in our commitment to making a profound impact on a regional level.”

“CAR-T therapy is a remarkable advancement for fighting diseases using the body’s immune system, and there was a pressing need to make CAR T cells available in UAE.”

“This achievement not only brings hope to countless patients but also strengthens our position as pioneers in cutting-edge medical innovation, right here in the heart of the UAE.”

“With the support of UAE’s leadership and the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, we aim to revolutionize perceptions of cancer treatment by pushing the limits of what can be achieved through cell therapy where genetically modified immune cells are used to precisely target tumors in individuals with specific blood cancers.”

“Bringing in such advancements, providing unparalleled care to complex cases, conducting clinical trials and research will help elevate the healthcare sector and serve the humanity tackling prevalent diseases and health problems. We’re truly thrilled to see Murad doing well.”

Dr. Fatima Al Kaabi, Executive Director of Abu Dhabi Bone Marrow Transplant Program (ADBMT) at ADSCC, said: “ADSCC researchers, scientists and physicians have devoted the past year to prepare for the imminent launch of engineering CAR-T cell therapy.”

“This milestone demonstrates ADSCC’s unparalleled commitment to advancing medical science in the region, and is testament to the capabilities of ADSCC, the availability of cutting-edge technologies, and its top-notch expertise.”

“With Murad’s condition not responding to chemotherapy, our hematologists and scientists worked closely with Murad’s treating physicians at Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC) for a smooth transfer to ADSCC to receive CAR-T cell therapy, the only effective treatment for his condition. It is a proud moment for us all as we see Murad returning back to his home and family.”

CAR-T cell therapy has long been a monopoly of foreign pharmaceutical companies and has been an approved treatment in the US since 2017. Due to its difficulty and sensitivity of manufacturing, its accessibility has been limited in the region.

Murad’s father, Majid, expressed how delighted he was with the success of his son’s treatment, saying: “We were devastated when Murad was diagnosed again with leukemia after almost five years of remission.”
“Unfortunately, chemotherapy did not work with him this time. His treating oncology physicians at SKMC discussed his case with ADSCC physicians, and it was decided that the only treatment for his condition was to perform CAR-T therapy.”
“We are truly lucky that this very advanced breakthrough became available at this time when Murad needed it. The team provided us with full information on the procedure, what to expect and the steps throughout the treatment journey. I did not hesitate once.”
“Murad is our first child, thanks to Allah, he is now in good health and back home with his sister. A word of thanks is not enough to the whole team at ADSCC who helped Murad come back home. We are truly lucky to be in the UAE, which has always been our home providing us with care, safety and beyond. We wish all children good health, and for those fighting cancer, you are true heroes.”

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Almarai signs an MoU with the Authority of People with Disabilities to train and employ them.

Almarai Company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Authority of People with
Disabilities to train, qualify and employ persons with disabilities. This came on the sidelines of
the First International Labor Market Conference, organized by the Ministry of Human Resources
and Social Development on December 13 – 14, 2023, at the King Abdulaziz Convention Center
in Riyadh.

The memorandum was signed by the Chief Human Resources Officer of Almarai Company,
Fahad Mohammed Aldrees, and the CEO of the Authority of People with Disabilities, Dr.
Hisham bin Muhammad Al-Haidari.

“This agreement comes within the framework of the company’s social responsibility program, as
Almarai employs more than 500 people with disabilities, which is one of the most suitable work
environments for them.” Fahad Aldrees said. Pointing out that Almarai has the “Silent Line”,
which is one of its production lines that is designated for people with hearing disabilities.

It is worth mentioning that Almarai supports over 300 charity organizations annually across the
kingdom that operate in the field of community development.

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Central Phuket Shopping Center Prepared Surprises This Christmas & New Year 2024

Central Phuket Shopping Center, the luxury lifestyle landmark o Phuket, invites everyone to celebrate Christmas and New Year 2024 in The Great Celebration 2024 Campaign. Joining hands with global partner ‘The Pokémon Company’, Central Phuket bring over Pokémon, the super cute character popular around the world, for all locals and international fans. The special campaign launch presents a procession of cute ‘Pikachu’ alongside with the giant Christmas tree for the first time in Thailand.
This December, Central Phuket prepared many activities for shoppers when visiting Phuket! Experience the “Surprise of the Day” with free Cotton Candy for our little ones, a sweet and fluffy treat, a special gift from Central Phuket. Bring your kids to enjoy this sweet treat every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month of December. Don’t miss the Christmas Carol that
everyone loves, little Santas spread freshness by singing together in the Christmas Carol activity. Plus, Christmas Live Music, the festival of joy is back! Celebrate Christmas in a luxurious and classy atmosphere, enjoying the music that will bring us joy. Also, there will be Christmas Troop, Santa Claus is coming to town! The Santa troop will spread happiness throughout Central Phuket. Lastly, Cake Workshop, workshop activity with Chef Sebastien’s IRON CHEF Thailand teaching how to make Christmas Vanilla Cake. A special activity for the Christmas season. Moreover, Central Phuket provides special promotion exclusively for international tourists throughout December 23 – January 24 including:

1) Get Free! Tourist welcome discount package valued up to THB 10,000.
2) Receive THB 100 Gift voucher when spending up to THB 2,500 per receipt.
3) Get to buy ‘Happy Holiday Collections’ special price: Pokémon 2-in-1 pillow blanket, tumbler, travel bag set, and keychain. Visit redemption counter for the price.
4) Exclusive for Grab Users get discount code up to 25% off* when traveling to participating Central Shopping Centers.
5) Receive famous Elephant Pants when spending over THB 5,000 in shopping center.
6) Get Free! H&M THB 100 gift voucher when booking any accommodations in Phuket with Agoda. Terms and conditions apply.

Central Phuket is a home of global luxury brands such as Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent. Exclusive for this season, Louis Vuitton launches a pop-up store located at Central Phuket. The design is inspired by the story of Damier or Checkerboard, the brand’s signature pattern. This classic pattern was created by Louis
Vuitton and his son Georges Vuitton in 1888 and has always been part of the design of Maison’s iconic items and concepts. Find clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories for men at the Pop-up Store from Louis Vuitton at Central Phuket, 1st floor, from today until 31 March 2024. And with over 500 renowned fashion brands and lifestyle shops ranging from local to international
well-known brands covering all categories, international shoppers will be able to find what they are looking for in Central Phuket.
Central Phuket is located in the heart of one of the world’s most famous beach cities, Phuket and await to welcome both locals and international visitors this holiday. Also, don’t miss one of the most joyful New Year Count Down events in Phuket city at Central Phuket Shopping Center on December 31, 2023.

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Saudi Fund for Development Provides $100 Million Development Loan for the Rogun Hydropower Project

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Chief Executive Officer, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, signed a new development loan agreement with the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Kahhorzoda Fayziddin Sattor, through which SFD is contributing $100 million USD to fund the Rogun Hydropower Project, a landmark initiative that will enhance energy,
food, and water security, and foster sustainable development in the country. The signing was attended by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Waleed Al-Reshiadan, and the Ambassador of Tajikistan to Saudi Arabia, H.E. Akram Karimi, alongside other officials from both sides. SFD’s development loan will help contribute towards a more sustainable and equitable food and water future for Tajikistan, while driving the country’s energy transition and climate resilience. The project aims to contribute to the national energy security and will help advance sustainable
development in the Republic of Tajikistan, by providing the renewable electricity supply to meet local demand and expand electricity production domestically and regionally, producing 3600 MW of energy. The loan agreement will also finance the construction of a 335-meter-tall dam, which will enhance irrigation capabilities and bolster agricultural activities across the country. Additionally, the project will improve flood protection through the construction of four hydraulic
tunnels for diversion and drainage. It will also provide clean and drinkable water to people through desalination, and help advance socio-economic development, by creating both direct and indirect jobs.
Importantly, this project also supports the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); specifically, SDG 2, Zero Hunger, SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation, and SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy.
On this occasion, the CEO of SFD, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, said: “Today’s signing marks a major milestone in our shared journey towards a more sustainable future. With this landmark development loan, SFD is not just supporting Tajikistan’s energy future, but also its sustainable development and the well-being of its people. The Rogun Hydropower Project is a beacon of
hope for a bright future that is powered by clean, renewable energy. It will propel Tajikistan towards environmental stewardship and prosperity.”

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