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CSIR Indian Genome Variation Consortium Project to enable access to predictive, personalized medicine

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Tuesday, September 16, 2014, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

CSIR Indian Genome Variation Consortium Project for predictive and personalised medicine will now provide faster treatment access to life style disorders and infectious diseases in the country.

A team of researchers led by Prof Samir K Bramachari, former director general Council Scientific and Industrial Research and JC Bose Fellow are now engaged to study the research make up of the Indian population.

The project titled ‘Understanding the genetic diversity in Asia through genome sequencing has now taken off in the northern western and southern states in the country. “There are many groups working on it. The end result is that it would enable targeted therapy protocols, said Prof Bramachari at the daylong conference on Applying Next Generation Sequencing organised by the Bengaluru-based Genotypic Technology here recently.

Even if 10 per cent of the population are able to spend $1,000 or Rs. 6,000 to get details of the genes it would enable companies engaged in genome sequencing generate the required revenues. Gene sequencing is the future for India and this business model should not be driven by any multinational company in the country because we have the required scientific talent and a population reporting high incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular, cancer, blood pressure and arthritis diseases, he added.

 The application of gene sequencing will now benefit clinical diagnostics. Using a hair follicle, scientists could find ways to improve tresses. With dental bacteria content, it could ascertain tooth decay and if root canal treatment was needed. These are the opportunities over the next 10 years and India cannot lose.

“India is the melting pot of world population and is the ideal location for disease genetics, pharmacogenomics and clinical trials. Therefore scientists engaged in gene sequencing projects should maximise the opportunity. The big advantage in India is the positive acceptance towards sharing confidential information about one’s genes, he noted.

“Today’s science needs tomorrow’s technology. The gene sequencing companies cannot depend on in-house talent but should look at crowdsourcing and collaborative genomic sequencing using platforms such as social media. Cell phones should be used to update discoveries and inventions. This is where medical college students could be engaged to work on gene sequencing projects and upload the information on using cell phones so that medical scientists could visualise the big picture

Currently Prof. Bramachari is now working on a well genomics undertaken to ascertain the healthy living leading to long life of Indian. The project has 100 individuals including a centenarians who have consented to their gene sequencing. The researchers have sequenced 16 genes of 88 individuals.

Gene sequencing would further strengthen the stem cell and cord blood banking which are the future opportunities for the Indian healthcare and life sciences sector. The need of the hour is crowd sourcing and hypothesis driven discovery on similar lines that of the open source drug discovery(OSSD) initiative that utilised research institutions to identify drug molecules. India’s young scientists and medical talent need to understand the complexity of the genomes and research on the disease and its cellular interactions, he said.


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