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Genome India Initiative

Topics Covered:

  1. Issues related to biotechnology.

 

Genome India Initiative

 

What to study?

For prelims: What is genome sequencing and how is it done?

For Mains: Significance, need and challenges to the project.

 

Context: The Department of Biotechology (DBT) plans to scan nearly 20,000 Indian genomes over the next five years, in a two-phase exercise, and develop diagnostic tests that can be used to test for cancer.

 

Key facts:

  1. The first phase involves sequencing the complete genomes of nearly 10,000 Indians from all corners of the country and capture the biological diversity of India.
  2. In the next phase, about 10,000 “diseased individuals” would have their genomes sequenced. These vast troves of data sets would be compared using machine learning techniques to identify genes that can predict cancer risk, as well as other diseases that could be significantly influenced by genetic anomalies.

 

Significance:

  1. The data generated would be accessible to researchers anywhere for analysis. This would be through a proposed National Biological Data Centre envisaged in a policy called the ‘Biological Data Storage, Access and Sharing Policy’, which is still in early stages of discussion.
  2. As the genetic landscape differs across the world, it is necessary that genetic data is shared in order to derive greater knowledge from information and serve the purpose of enabling better treatment outcomes. 
  3. The GenomeIndia initiative will pave the way for identifying genes and genetic variations for common diseases, treating Mendelian disorders, enabling the transformation of the Precision Medicine landscape in India, and thus improving the healthcare of the general population in our country.

 

Need for genome sequencing:

Ever since the human genome was first sequenced in 2003, it opened a fresh perspective on the link between disease and the unique genetic make-up of each individual.

Nearly 10,000 diseases — including cystic fibrosis, thalassemia — are known to be the result of a single gene malfunctioning. While genes may render some insensitive to certain drugs, genome sequencing has shown that cancer too can be understood from the viewpoint of genetics, rather than being seen as a disease of certain organs.

 

What are the uses of genome sequencing?

  1. A genome is an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes.
  2. Genomics is an interdisciplinary field of science focusing on the structure, function, evolution, mapping, and editing of genomes.
  3. Genomics also involves the sequencing and analysis of genomes through uses of high throughput DNA sequencing.
  4. Advances in genomics have triggered a revolution in discovery-based research and systems biology to facilitate understanding of even the most complex biological systems such as the brain.

 

Sources: the Hindu.

 

Mains Question: What do you understand by ‘genomics’? Examine how far the Human Genome Project has helped in finding cures for human diseases.