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This Founder is Diagnosing Diseases Before They Happen

Wareed Alenaini wants to help doctors get a more accurate picture of what’s going on inside their patients’ bodies to prevent disease before it happens.

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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For Wareed Alenaini, preventable diseases are personal. Born and raised in Saudi, she was alarmed early on at the prevalence of preventable disease in her family.  

“I was surrounded by loved ones who were suffering from preventable conditions, but they never had the opportunity to prevent them. So, we found ourselves living with the devastating consequences of preventable conditions,” she tells us.  

This early realization set her off on a journey to explore what could be done to prevent the onset of preventable diseases. After completing her undergraduate in diagnostics in Saudi, she moved to the UK to do her master’s and PhD in the same field. After dabbling in policy for a few years, she returned to the lab and developed a diagnostics technology that provides early detection for preventable and age-related diseases.  

In 2022, she set up Twinn Health, a biotech spin-off from research that she worked on at the Imperial College London in the UK. The startup developed a patented AI technology that scans existing MRIs and compares them to millions of others to provide early diagnosis and recommendations for preventable diseases, starting with metabolic conditions and going through to strokes and joint injuries. The AI also produces a report with disease risk assessments and recommended interventions. According to Alenaini, it is especially effective at scanning for cancer long before any symptoms are apparent.  

In addition to working with clinics and hospitals, Alenaini is eyeing partnerships with biobanks, which have scans as well as patient records, to train the AI and provide patients with disease risk assessments.  

“We want to enable people to stay healthy for longer and provide accessible solutions that prevent them from being sick in the first place,” she tells us. 

So far, the startup has operations in the UK and Europe and is currently in talks with the FDA to get approval for Twinn Health software. Critically, it’s also eyeing expansion to Alenaini’s native Saudi.  

“We started in the UK which gave us an excellent ground to build a robust R&D with physicians from the National Health Services in the UK and now we are looking to replicate that in countries with strong ambition for preventative healthcare such as Saudi,” she tells us. 

Alenaini spent the first few months of 2024 in Saudi and has plans to set up shop in the kingdom by the summer of this year. She believes that Saudi’s strong push into healthcare, driven largely by Vision 2030, will make it one of the region’s healthcare hubs. 

“A significant part of our dataset is ethnic minorities in the UK, so migrating to the Middle East is a logical step for us,” she says.  

Saudi as a Health Hub 

“Right now, in Europe, there are a few top health hubs. I believe it is going to be the same in the Middle East. We see huge potential in Saudi Arabia, whether in NEOM or Riyadh, to become one of the region’s top health hubs,” she tells us.  

She is also positive about the availability of biobanks in Saudi Arabia. “The data does exist, but the challenge there is access, although that is changing as well,” she says.  

One of the advantages of working in MENA is having a young population, which creates more opportunities for preventive interventions, she tells us. Twinn Health is also looking at expansion into Asian markets, especially China and Japan. 

Alenaini is especially positive about the emergence of private health clusters in Saudi. Initiated by the Ministry of Health, the clusters provide a range of preventive and curative healthcare services under one roof. These, she believes, can act as enablers for startups like Twinn Health and “drive positive healthcare privatization in the region.” 

For Alenaini growing awareness around wellness and prevention is reflecting on both the patient and policy levels.  

“Awareness is becoming almost global after COVID-19. I think the bonus that we got in places like Saudi is that the government is also pushing this agenda,” she tells us. 

“I think it’s just a matter of time that we get healthcare that can give us a true look at what is happening inside our bodies,” she adds.   

This article was first published in the May/June issue of Inc. Arabia's digital magazine. To read the full magazine, click here.  

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