Scientists at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi, a unit of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), have achieved the first-ever human genome sequencing in India.
The CSIR scientist have sequenced the genome of an anonymous healthy Indian citizen, an official release said, without naming the individual.
This feat has been achieved by a team of very young scientists, said union minister of state for science and technology Prithviraj Chavan while addressing a press conference in New Delhi.
The completion of the first human genome sequence puts India in the league of select few countries such as the United States, China, Canada, United Kingdom and Korea, which have demonstrated the capability to sequence and assemble complete human genomes.
CSIR could achieve this by adopting new technologies and by effectively integrating complex computational tools with high throughput analytical capabilities, the release said.
The human genome has 3.1 billion base pairs. The team at IGIB generated over 51 gigabases of data using next generation sequencing technology, resulting in over 13x coverage of the human genome.
This next-generation sequencing technology enables massively parallel sequencing of millions of genomic fragments of 76 base pairs, which are then mapped back to the reference genome. This humongous exercise was made possible with the CSIR supercomputing facility at IGIB, said S K Brahmchari, DG, CSIR.
The sequencing of the first human genome in India in conjunction with Indian genome variation programme opens newer vistas for low-cost affordable healthcare and predictive medicine in future for the masses. This also opens up newer possibilities in disease diagnostics, treatment and sustaining low-cost drugs in the market, the release added.
While the first human genome sequence effort took more than a decade spending over a billion US dollars, CSIR scientists at IGIB finished the complete sequencing and assembly in much shorter time comparable with similar recent effort the world over. By using next generation technologies and skills, they successfully bridged the technological gap that existed a decade ago.
CSIR has been endeavoring to nucleate such teams in different niche technological areas and the initiative seems to be paying off now.
The first human genome sequence in the world was a result of the International Human Genome Project comprising scientists from United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan and China. The project formally started in 1990 and the sequencing was completed in 2003. India could not be a part of this large initiative as in the early nineties it lacked the necessary resources.