A study has re­vealed many Oma­nis have al­pha tha­lassemia and that 5 per cent of them have sickle cell anaemia

Times of Oman - - FRONT PAGE - Times News Ser­vice

Many Oma­nis carry a rare blood dis­or­der that could re­duce the pro­duc­tion of haemoglobin in the body and cause pale­ness, weak­ness, fa­tigue, and more se­ri­ous com­pli­ca­tions, although not all car­ri­ers de­velop symp­toms, a re­searcher in the Sul­tanate has re­vealed.

Dr Hal­ima Al Balushi, a re­searcher and se­nior spe­cial­ist at Oman’s Royal Hos­pi­tal, con­ducted a study which re­veals that a large per­cent­age of Oma­nis have al­pha tha­las­saemia and that five per cent have sickle cell anaemia.

Dr Al Balushi, dis­cussing her re­search with the Min­istry of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion, added that Oma­nis also have a rare form of sickle cell dis­ease which is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated by med­i­cal re­searchers all over the world. The con­di­tion is so rare it has been la­beled “Oman type sickle cell dis­or­der” and added that around 70 peo­ple in the Sul­tanate cur­rently suf­fer from the con­di­tion.

Al Balushi, in an in­ter­view with the Min­istry of Health, added: “Ge­netic blood dis­or­ders are preva­lent in the Sul­tanate, which is why stud­ies such as th­ese can iden­tify blood cells, as well as treat­ment meth­ods. The study used in­ex­pen­sive med­i­ca­tions that proved ef­fec­tive, and also tested ge­netic treat­ments to sat­is­fy­ing re­sults.”

“Thank­fully, the Sul­tanate has an abun­dance of re­search labs that can aid in pro­duc­ing med­i­ca­tions, and the Uni­ver­sity of Cam­bridge has shown in­ter­est in study­ing ge­netic blood dis­or­ders. This is also due to the grants of His Majesty, who has shown in­ter­est in sci­en­tific re­search,” she added.

While al­pha tha­las­saemia is a blood dis­or­der that re­duces the pro­duc­tion of haemoglobin, thus im­pact­ing oxy­gen flow, Al Balushi stud­ied sam­ples of blood that con­tained the dis­or­der known as Haemoglobin (Hb) S-Oman, also called Omani Sickle Cell Anaemia, which dis­torts the shape of red blood cells into a shape sim­i­lar to that of a hat, and can cause ex­treme cases of pain.

— File photo

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