The human genome sequence of an Indian has now been mapped, putting the country in the league of five others — United States, Britain, Canada, China and South Korea — who have demonstrated similar capabilities. This means the 3.1 billion base pairs describing every function of the body of an Indian are now available for further study and as an important diagnostic tool for predictive healthcare.
Devoting over two years on the background work, a team of young scientists from the Indian Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) in New Delhi mapped the genome sequence of a man in his fifties from Jharkhand. The sequencing revealed his susceptibility to bipolar disorder, collateral cancers, five variations of ulcer and three types of coronary disease.
The project will be followed up with sequencing of various Indian communities — regions, races and castes.
The world’s first human genome sequence was completed in 2003 by the International Human Genome Project with scientists from the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan and China. Resource constraints hindered India’s participation in that project.
IGIB scientists had earlier sequenced the genome of a zebrafish — 1.8 billion base pairs — setting the stage for human genome sequencing.
Earlier in this blog, we had featured the Indian Genome Variation Consortium, a public-private partnership that networks six Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) labs and some private software firms, when they completed the genetic mapping of one of the world’s most ethnically diverse populations — Indians — last year.
More sturdy steps for Indian genomic studies!