India maps first Human Genome Sequence
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Using as little as 10 millilitres of blood from a "healthy 52-year-old-man", scientists at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) in Delhi have successfully mapped the Human Genome Sequence for the first time in India.
The breakthrough paves the way for predictive healthcare and the possibility of identifying why certain people (with particular gene sequences) do not respond to certain medications, and what diseases a particular gene carrier, or a population, is likely to develop.
While the actual genome sequencing was completed in 45 days, the project took two years of background work ó setting up a supercomputer facility, procuring software and standardizing protocols. The team that achieved the feat was led by Dr S Sridhar and IGIB PhD student Vinod Scaria, both in their mid-thirties.
The world's first Human Genome Sequence was a result of the International Human Genome Project comprising scientists from the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan and China. The Project began in 1990, and the sequencing was completed in 2003.
"The human genome sequence is like a map of the human body. Through this map, we can tell what leads to what. We can use this map to predict mutations in the gene, like predicting how a certain person may get a certain disease. We can predict for instance, who will get the common bipolar disease or single nuclear polymorphism," IGIB director Dr Rajesh Gokhale said.
"Through the same tool, we can predict the chances of a particular disease affecting a population. We can also explore aspects like why certain drugs don't affect certain people," he added.
Despite the high cost of sequencing, scientists at IGIB predict that it may soon become a fairly popular procedure.
"While genome sequencing is certainly expensive now, in about five years, we can look forward to making it a common diagnostic tool. A cancer patient for instance should be able to avail this facility, and the sequencing can predict what drugs will be useful for him," Dr Gokhale said.
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