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India is “the Epitome of the world” which means it presents with the endless variety of physical features and racial diversity. Every organism comprise of genetic code which is in DNA ( De oxy ribo nuclic acid), serve as the building blocks of the body and discovered by James Watsan and Frans crick in 1953. The complete set of DNA consists of all genes which have every information regarding physical features, diseases and traits can be called as genome. In human entire genome consist of 3 billion base pairs like adinin, thynin, cytocin.
In past few years, with the development of gene sequencing technique – micro arrays and next generation sequencing research has been conducted to identify genetic causes of human disorder and symptoms. Many countries have initiated the genetic research using sequencing technology and made an effort to make data in some measure over the world for instance, an international program Human Genome Project (1990-2003) that led to decoding of entire human genome, it was coordinated by the US department of energy and the national institutes of health but it has major diversity problem as most genome have been sourced from urban- class white people. Thus it was not really representative.
India got inspired from the Human Genome project and initiated an ambitious gene mapping project called as ” genome India project “ with the approval of ministry of science and technology and by the collaboration of 20 institution including Indian institute of science and some IITs. This project is funded by the department of biotechnology to sequence the 1st stage of at least 10,000 Indian genome. It Aims to build the grid of Indian reference genome by collecting information and conducting research to understand the type and nature of disease and traits that comprise in Indian diverse population.
Some primary aspect should be considered before working on this project, manpower has to be trained to handle large genetic data and other resources across institutions in India and catalogue all genetic variations.
Objective of this Project:
Genome Indian Project will enable new efficiencies in medicine, agriculture and the life care sciences.
- Precision Health: the objective of GIP is to develop the personalized medicine, anticipate the disease before they develop and modulate the treatment according to genome of patients. For Ex. Strokes caused to residents of Africa and the cardiovascular disease generally leads to heart attract in South Asians
- Sustainable Agriculture: a better understanding of the genome of plants will determine that how pests, insects and others issue hampering their productivity and the elements which are favorable to it. This reduces the dependence on chemical.
- International Cooperation: Global science would also benefit a mapping project in one of the world’s most diverse gene pools. This project has aims to study both horizontal and vertical diversity in India horizontal diversity means periodic migration in India from various other countries and vertical diversity means there has been endogamy or inter-marriage practice among distant group resulting in some traits inherited by just some groups.
Challenges involved in this Project:
1. Fear of Scientific Racism: GIP raises a social issue as in India, there is already racism and groupism (superior Race and inferior race), divided with identity politics. This project may add a genetic dimension to this
2. Data and Storage – After sample collection, questions of the anonymity of the data and its use and misuse must be addressed. Keeping data in the cloud is fraught with problems and it raises questions about ownership. India has not yet ratified the Data Privacy Bill with appropriate security measures. Therefore, launching the Genome India project before the privacy question is resolved could lead to another set of problems.
3. Medical Ethics: A major concern is that doctors may in private practice initiate the genetic modification and selective breading (ugenics) which is controversial since time immemorial and even before DNA was discovered. Recently Scientist of china has created world’s 1st gene edited baby and he got the punishment of 3 years. The lure to “intervene” may be much more if this kind of knowledge is available, without one being fully aware of the attendant risks
As National genetic research provides an opportunity to explain the genetic background of the country’s residents. Observing symptoms or disorders can help to understand the genetic distribution of the population of a country. Therefore, genetic data can be a useful source for health care and support, especially for those with a high-risk variant – a patient with a very rare condition, etc. – primary care that should be obtained based on research findings. In this way, a national genetic project is a tool not only to describe the group that comprises a country, but also how to deal with social events in society.
According to website, rarediseasesindia.org, the rare diseases in India was more 72,000 as per census of 2011 and the government of India in past has taken several measures to tackle this problem. GIP can offer valuable data for better implementation.
Genomics is the field of science focusing on the function, structure, mapping, evolution and editing of genes. To procure the advantage from the genomics revolution, India should train the manpower capable of interpreting it. The information required has to come from a large and sustained collection of data fully sequenced individual genomes along with medical histories for the individuals become volunteer for this effort.
Genome sequencing can be the solution of genetic disease is evident from the example of 2019; a three months pregnant lady approached to medical collage of Kerala to know if her unborn child carries a rare immune disease from which first born child was afflicted with. the scientist at the research institute used genome sequencing technique to determine genetic abnormality of the first child and based on information, studied the feotus of unborn child to find out whether it carry the genetic disorder. The result was that feotus doesnot suffer any rare disease.GIP will expand this research on national scale.
Author: Muskan Sadhwani from ICFAI University, Dehradun.
Editor: Silky Mittal, Junior Editor, Lexlife India.