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CCMB establishes facility for DNA studies in India news
Our Corporate Bureau
29 June 2004

Hyderabad: The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) has inaugurated a facility for 'Ancient DNA studies' in the city. This is the first facility of its kind in the country.

The other three laboratories of this kind exist in Germany, the UK and the USA which have been set up to understand the evolutionary history of man in India using molecular evidence.

The research being done at this facility will cover aspects such as the existence of life on planets like Mars, the origin of fatal diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis and other unexplored areas.

Dr MK Bhan, secretary, department of biotechnology, inaugurated the facility and said that the 'Ancient DNA' laboratory will examine the genomic contribution of the ancient human population. This is a joint effort by the department of biotechnology (DBT) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), he added.

According to CCMB director Dr Lalji Singh, CCMB in association with the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) is working on creating a database pertaining to genomic diversity of ancient populations on the Indian sub-continent. He said the preparatory work had already been initiated and the database is expected to be in place in a year's time.

Dr Singh said, ancient DNA studies help in understanding the biodiversity and the pattern of human health that have unfolded in India in the last 20,000 years and research on ancient DNA helps to understand problems in diverse areas such as microbiology, astrobiology and archaeology, he added.

Dr Lalji said CCMB recently conducted an analysis of the skeletal remains found in Roopkund, (Mystery Lake) Uttaranchal, and has identified the entire mitochondria in about 30-odd samples taken from the lake. He said the efforts to extract and amplify DNA from these remains were fruitful.

CCMB has also initiated a comprehensive project to study all the tribes of India. Statistically there are about 600 known tribal populations and 700 primitive tribes. CCMB has analysed about 8,000 DNA samples of these tribal populations.

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CCMB establishes facility for DNA studies in India