genome india

Genome India Project

Union government has given clearance to an ambitious gene mapping project known as the Genome India Project with an estimated worth of Rs 238 crores.

What is Genome?

An organism’s complete set of DNA is called its genome. Virtually every single cell in the body contains a complete copy of the approximately 3 billion DNA base pairs, or letters, that make up the human genome.

The discovery that DNA is structured as a “double helix” by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953, for which they won a Nobel Prize in 1962, was the spark in the long, continuing quest for understanding how genes dictate life, its traits, and what causes diseases.

With its four-letter language, DNA contains the information needed to build the entire human body. A gene traditionally refers to the unit of DNA that carries the instructions for making a specific protein or set of proteins. Each of the estimated 20,000 to 25,000 genes in the human genome codes for an average of three proteins.

  • Every organism’s genetic code is contained in its Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid (DNA), the building blocks of life.
  • A genome is defined as an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. It contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism.
  • In humans, a copy of the entire genome — more than 3 billion DNA base pairs — is contained in all cells that have a nucleus.

The Human Genome Project (HGP) – from 1990 to 2003 – was an international programme that led to the decoding of the entire human genome. India was also a collaborator for this programme

About the project

  • The project has been cleared by Department of Biotechnology (under the Ministry of Science and Technology).
  • It involves 20 leading institutions including the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru and a few IITs.
  • The Centre for Brain Research, an autonomous institute of IISc, Bengaluru will serve as the nodal point of the Genome India project.
  • The first stage of the project will look at samples of 10,000 persons from all over the country to form a grid that will enable the development of a Reference Genome.
  • As a precursor to this project, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) last year concluded a six-month exercise of conducting a “whole-genome sequence” of a 1,008 Indians under “IndiGen” programme.

Significance of the Genome India project 

  • Its aim is to ultimately build a grid of the Indian “reference genome”, to understand fully the type and nature of diseases and traits that comprise the diverse Indian population. For example, if the Northeast sees a tendency towards a specific disease, interventions can be made in the region, assisting public health, which make it easier to battle the illness.
  •   The Human Genome Project studies are based mainly on Caucasian; urban middle class samples (95%), which are not considered representative of all humans.
  • The Genome India project will help India develop indigenous capacity to generate, maintain, analyze, utilize and communicate large-scale genome data, in a scalable manner.
  • This will help to understand the type and nature of diseases and traits that comprise the diverse Indian population and will help to develop precision medicine.
  • It would further improve scientific understanding of evolution both from a biological (intra- and inter-species interaction, species-ecology interactions, etc.) and sociological (migration patterns, rituals, etc.) point of view
  •  Healthcare- The outcomes of the project will help in faster and efficient diagnosis of rare genetic diseases.

Important Topics Prelims 2020


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