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  • Context (TH | IE | PIB | TP): The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) officially completed the 10,000 genome project (Genome India project).
  • Taking inspiration from the Human Genome Project, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) initiated the ambitious Genome India Project (GIP) in 2020.
  • It aims to collect 10,000 genetic samples from citizens across India, to build a reference genome.
  • Gene Mapping project involves 20 leading institutions of the country with the Centre for Brain Research of Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore as the nodal point.
  • India first sequenced a complete human genome in 2006.
  • All the data are being stored at the Indian Biological Data Centre (IBDC) located at the Regional Centre for Biotechnology (RCB) in Faridabad.
  • The IBDC is the country’s only databank. Prior to that, Indian researchers had to host their biological datasets on American or European servers.
  • Countries like the UK, China, and the US also have projects to sequence a significant number of genomes.

Need for an India-specific database?

  • India’s population of 1.4 billion comprises over 4,600 population groups, many of which are endogamous.
  • This diversity has led to distinct genetic variations, with certain groups having a higher frequency of disease-causing mutations.
  • Harmful mutations, less common globally, are concentrated at elevated rates within these endogamous groups in India. For example,
    • A mutation MYBPC3 that leads to cardiac arrest at a young age is found in 4.5% of the Indian population but is rare globally.
    • Another mutation called LAMB3 that causes a lethal skin condition is found in nearly 4% of the population near Madurai, but it is not seen in global databases.
  • A population group refers to a group of individuals united by a common factor (e.g., geographic location, ethnicity, disease, age, gender).
  • Endogamous is the practice of allowing marriage only within a specific tribe, caste, ethnic or religious group, or other social unit. For example, Caste in India.
  • An analysis of just 5,750 of the genomes has helped researchers identify 135 million genetic variants found in India.

Significance of GIP

  • To gain deeper insight into India’s population diversity.
  • Improve diagnostic methods and medical counselling.
  • Find genetic predispositions to disease.
  • Develop personalised and customisable drugs.
  • Improve gene therapy.
  • Throw more light on individual susceptibility to infectious disease.
  • Help in identifying resistance-indicating variants. For example, genes that might make certain medicines or anaesthetics ineffective in certain populations.

India & Biotechnology

  • India’s bio-economy has grown 13 folds in the last 10 years from $10 billion in 2014 to over $130 billion in 2024.
  • India is now being rated among top 12 bio-manufacturers in the world.
  • In the Interim budget (2024-25), GoI announced a new scheme of Bio-manufacturing and bio-foundry to be implemented by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • It provides environment-friendly alternatives such as biodegradable polymers, bio-plastics, bio-pharmaceuticals and bio-agri-inputs.
  • This scheme will also help transform today’s consumptive manufacturing paradigm into one based on regenerative principles.
  • Success stories that have made tremendous contributions to India’s bio-economy include:

Human Genome Project

  • Human Genome Project is a publicly funded international collaborative research project aimed at:
    • Determining the sequence of chemical base pairs which make up human DNA, &
    • Identifying & mapping all of the genes of the human genome.
  • It was formally launched in 1990 and finally declared complete in 2003.

To know about how genome sequencing is done and its advantages, visit > Genome Sequencing.

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