It’s here: India’s first human genome sequence
New Delhi, December 8
“The sequencing of the genome puts India in a select group of countries, including the USA, the UK, Canada, Korea and China, which have demonstrated such capability,” said Samir Brahmachari, Director-General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Minister for Science and Technology Prithviraj Chavan made the announcement in both Houses of Parliament and lauded the scientists of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), a CSIR laboratory, on their achievement.
“The sequencing of the first human genome in India, sets the stage for India’s entry into the elite club which will open up new possibilities in diagnostics, treatment and low-cost affordable health care in future for the masses,” he said.
The Indian genome sequence, achieved in about nine weeks, was among sequences of 14 persons available worldwide, IGIB Director Rajesh Gokhale said at a press conference here.
The first genome sequencing was a global effort achieved by several scientists across the world over a period of 13 years, beginning in 1990.
Gokhale said the sequencing opens up vistas for accurate treatment of individuals or a group of population whose genome has been mapped.
The first human genome sequence in the world was a result of International Human Genome Project comprising of scientists of six countries. India could not be part of this initiative in early 1990s because of resource constraints, Chavan said.
Scientists at the CSIR could achieve this feat by adopting new technology and by effectively integrating complex computational and bio-informatics tools with high throughput analytical capability using super-computers, he said.
The scientists found that the person, a 52-year-old healthy male from Jharkhand, whose genome was mapped, was susceptible to cancer and some other diseases in the later stages of his life.
Earlier, CSIR scientists at the IGIB had sequenced the genome of a zebrafish, having about 1.8 billion base pairs as against that of human genome that comprised around 3.1 billion base pairs. The zebrafish genome was considered as a significant step as it was the popular organism for modelling human diseases.
India was the first country to sequence the wild type strain of the zebrafish, an exercise that gave scientists the confidence to take up the challenge of mapping the complete human genome.
Last year, the CSIR-led Indian Genome Variation Project mapped the genetic diversity of the country’s populations, the first such attempt in the world. — PTI