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CSIR in advanced phase of gene sequencing under its Genome Variation Consortium Project

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Monday, December 29, 2014, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is in an advanced phase of study of  Indian Genome Variation Consortium Project. The researchers are now working towards predictive and personalized medicine with an objective to provide quicker treatment options to treat infectious diseases and life style disorders.

The researcher initiative is led by Prof Samir K Bramachari, former director general Council Scientific and Industrial Research and JC Bose Fellow. His team is now assessing the  genetic make up of the Indian population and assess the disease profiles.

“We refer to this research project to comprehend the genetic diversity in Asia through genome sequencing. We have already collected the blood samples from northern western and southern states in the country. The project has 100 individuals including centenarians who have consented to sequence their genes. The researchers has sequenced 16 genes of 88 individuals. Since, there are several groups being associated with this research, it would help us to arrive at the final outcome which would allow targeted therapy protocols, Prof Bramachari, told Pharmabiz.

In an age of targeted drug therapy which is being advocated and promoted in treating cancer, we are looking to ensure that if information on their genes is made available then they will be able to get the desired outcomes from treatment. “Gene sequencing is the future for India and for this business model the country has the required scientific talent and a population reporting high incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular, cancer, blood pressure and arthritis diseases," said Prof Bramachari

Conditions from hair fall, tooth decay, cardiovascular disorders to rheumatism among others can be identified and treated with the right drugs with the collated data from gene sequencing. These are the opportunities over the next 10 years and India cannot miss out, he said

Since India has made substantial progress in the area of the stem cell and cord blood banking, gene sequencing would further strengthen the future opportunities for the Indian healthcare and life sciences sector, said Prof Bramachari.

The former CSIR chief opted for crowd sourcing and hypothesis driven discovery on similar lines that of the open source drug discovery (OSSD) initiative that utilized 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. The country is also the apt location for disease genetics, pharmacogenomics and clinical trials. Therefore scientists engaged in gene sequencing projects should maximize the opportunity. The big advantage in India is the positive acceptance towards sharing confidential information about one’s genes, he said.

There are several startup companies in the country focusing on gene sequencing. “We now need to use social media, mobiles, analytics and cloud computing to simplify look at crowd sourcing and collaborative genomic sequencing. Our project is also looking at medical colleges to be associated in gene sequencing projects and upload the information on using cell phones so that medical scientists could visualize the big picture”, he said. 

 

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