During a recent fashion show featuring Parkinson’s patients from the UAE, experts revealed that Emiratis can develop Parkinson’s disease as early as 35 years old. The event was held in April, which is dedicated to raising awareness for Parkinson’s Disease.
The patients walked the runway to show their support for the cause.
The event ‘Connecting Communities, I am the first, you are the next, come & Test, Emirati Parkinson’s genome campaign’ was organized with the crucial involvement of the Kings College Hospital London, Dubai, Parkinson’s Centre of Excellence.
This center is the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa, offering a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to Parkinson’s care.
Initially starting with just one patient in 2020, the Kings College Hospital London, Dubai, Parkinson’s Centre of Excellence now caters to over 600 patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders affecting basic body movements and cognitive abilities.
Its reputation has spread across the Middle East and North Africa, where it has become a referral tertiary centre.
In addition to providing care, the centre is also supporting the government’s National Genomic Campaign through its Parkinson’s genome campaign.
The initiative aims to promote genetic testing among Emiratis to uncover the reasons behind the disease affecting them at such a young age.
Dr Vinod Metta, a specialist in Parkinson’s and movement disorders at the Kings College Hospital London, Dubai, who is leading the Parkinson’s genome campaign along with MBRU, Parkinson’s Association UAE, POD council of Dubai Police, and his team, told Khaleej Times that Parkinson’s disease is currently underrated and underdiagnosed in the UAE, and there is a need for greater awareness.
According to Dr. Vinod Metta, a Parkinson’s & movement disorders specialist at King’s College Hospital London in Dubai, Parkinson’s disease in the UAE is under-diagnosed and needs more awareness. In the western world, Parkinson’s is typically seen in people aged 75 to 85, and it is rare to see Parkinson’s below 50. However, at King’s Dubai, Parkinson’s is observed in people as young as 30 or 35, with the youngest patient being 29. The center, which began with one patient in 2020, now has a database of over 600 Parkinson’s patients from all emirates, making it a referral tertiary center for Parkinson’s and movement disorders across the MENA region.
Dr. Metta’s team is leading the Parkinson’s genome campaign, which supports the UAE government’s National Genomic Campaign. The Emirates’ Parkinson’s Study, led and published by King’s Dubai in 2022, showed that Emirati females can develop Parkinson’s disease as young as 29 or 30. The center is now conducting genetic testing to better understand Parkinson’s disease in Emiratis, as there is a discrepancy in phenotypes among Arabs, with different Arab populations having different types of Parkinson’s disease.
Dr. Metta hopes that the genetic research study will identify any culprit gene among Emiratis in different Emirates and contribute to ongoing research to find a cure for Parkinson’s disease. The recent event, “Connecting Communities, I am the first, you are the next, come & Test, Emirati Parkinson’s genome campaign,” organized by King’s College Hospital London, Dubai, in collaboration with other organizations, aimed to raise awareness about the disease and connect Parkinson’s patients.