Genome sequencing of all Indian ethnic types completed, clinical applications soon

PRADEEP RANA | NEW DELHI

Indian scientists have notched a new milestone with completion of whole genome sequencing of all 1008 diverse Indian ethnics types from different populations across the country.

Codenamed IndiGen Genome Project, it aims to development the whole genome data for building the knowhow, baseline date and capacity in the emerging area of precision medicine.

The IndiGen initiative was undertaken by  Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in April 2019, which was implemented by the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi and CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad.

This enabled benchmarking the scalability of genome sequencing and computational analysis at population scale in a defined timeline. The ability to decode the genetic blueprint of humans through whole genome sequencing will be a major driver for biomedical science.

The benefits of this initiative include epidemiology of genetic diseases to enable cost effective genetic tests, carrier screening applications for expectant couples, enabling efficient diagnosis of heritable cancers and pharmacogenetic tests to prevent adverse drug reactions.

“The outcomes of the IndiGen will have applications in a number of areas including predictive and preventive medicine with faster and efficient diagnosis of rare genetic diseases,” Dr Harsh Vardhan, the Minister of Science and Technology, said here

The government will soon issue an IndiGenome Card and IndiGen mobile app that will enables individual and clinicians to access clinically actionable information in their genomes.  The Minister stressed the Card will ensure privacy and data security, which is vital for personal genomics. This is being pilot tested in individuals across India and has evinced interest from several Indian commercial organisations.

The outcomes of the IndiGen will be utilized towards understanding the genetic diversity on a population scale, make available genetic variant frequencies for clinical applications and enable genetic epidemiology of diseases. The whole genome data and knowhow for the analysis of large scale genomic data is expected to enable evidence and aid in the development of technologies for clinical and biomedical applications in India.

Director General, CSIR and Secretary, Department for Scientific & Industrial Research, Dr Shekhar C. Mande said that it is important to ensure that India, with its unparalleled human diversity, is adequately represented in terms of genomic data and develops indigenous capacity to generate, maintain, analyze, utilize and communicate large-scale genome data, in a scalable manner.

CSIR has taken a lead role in human genomic sciences in India and has contributed towards the first personal human genome in India and in understanding ancestral population in India and early migrations that led to what we know today on distinct ethnic groups.

The premier research body has pioneered the application of genomics in clinical settings in the area of rare genetic diseases in India.

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