‘PRISQ’ presents a first-of-its-kind tool for screening prediabetes
National efforts on diabetes prevention have been boosted by a collaboration between Qatar Biomedical Research Institute (QBRI), Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), both at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), and the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC), which will enable the Prediabetes Risk Score in Qatar (PRISQ) to be validated in primary care settings.
The risk score is one of the first of its kind for screening prediabetes risk in the Middle East, where prevalence is one of the highest in the world. Prediabetes diagnosis currently relies on blood tests which are invasive and not suitable for routine screening. PRISQ uniquely uses age, sex, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and blood pressure - all non-invasively obtained parameters - to detect prediabetes. It was jointly developed by QBRI and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) at HBKU, using clinical, anthropometric, and demographic data obtained from Qatar Biobank.
If validated through the PHCC trial program, PRISQ could easily be used in any clinical setting, either as a stand-alone tool or integrated in a medical informatics system. The screening tool will benefit the early identification of prediabetes, considered a crucial and cost-effective step for Qatar’s public health authorities to curb the high prevalence of type two diabetes (T2D) and its related complications.
Dr. Omar El-Agnaf, Executive Director of QBRI, said: “This collaboration highlights the great efforts made by QBRI to tackle diseases that impact Qatar and the region. The trial will be a major milestone for the project, with patient-centered outcomes that can help address a pressing health condition in the region. We are immensely honored to join efforts with the PHCC to lessen the burden of diabetes by improving early diagnosis using PRISQ.”
Dr. Abdelilah Arredouani, a scientist at QBRI, and who led the development of PRISQ, explained: PHCC is the biggest primary healthcare provider in Qatar, so this collaboration provides the ideal clinical setting in which to test PRISQ. If its strong performance is validated, or even improved, it can be deployed as a cost-effective screening tool in all PHCC health centers.”
Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Syed, Acting Director of Clinical Research at PHCC, said: “Diabetes is one of the greatest health challenges we are facing as a society. Early detection and intervention are necessary for better patient outcomes and population health. We are delighted to collaborate with QBRI and QCRI in validating PRISQ in the Qatari population. It is our hope that it will become an essential screening tool in modern day clinical practice.”
QCRI, in collaboration with QBRI, will analyze the anonymized patient data received from PHCC for validation. Dr. Halima Bensmail, a principal investigator at QCRI, and a co-leader of the PRISQ project noted: “We are delighted to contribute our data analysis techniques to support this effort to advance PRISQ towards implementation in clinical practice. It demonstrates an HBKU-wide commitment to impactful research that benefits the lives of populations in Qatar and across the region.”
Prediabetes is a significant concern in Qatar and the GCC more widely, associated with the risk of developing T2D, and micro and macrovascular complications. Early detection, according to research, can prevent or delay the progression to T2D, through intensive lifestyle changes, including physical activity, nutrition, or early pharmacotherapy. This further underscores the significance of PRISQ, both for primary care physicians and patients, as a screening tool that can inform treatment or prevention plans consistent with the National Diabetes Strategy.