CSIR conducts Whole Genome Sequencing of 1,008 Indians

at 1:40 pm
Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan . File photo

New Delhi: The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) has conducted Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) of 1,008 Indians from different populations across the country. 

“The outcomes of the IndiGen will have applications in a number of areas including predictive and preventive medicine with faster and efficient diagnosis of rare genetic diseases,” Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said.

WGS is ostensibly the process of determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism’s genome at a single time.

Announcing details of the IndiGen Genome project here on October 25, the Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Health & Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the whole genome data will be important for building the knowhow, baseline data and indigenous capacity in the emerging area of Precision Medicine.  

The IndiGen initiative was undertaken by CSIR in April 2019, which was implemented by the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi and CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad.

On the occasion, Vardhan also unveiled the IndiGenome card and accompanying IndiGen mobile application that enables participants and clinicians to access clinically actionable information in their genomes. 

He also emphasized that it ensures privacy and data security, which is vital for personal genomics to be implemented at scale. Dr Harsh Vardhan elaborated that this is being pilot tested in individuals across India and has evinced interest from several Indian commercial organisations.

This has enabled benchmarking the scalability of genome sequencing and computational analysis at population scale in a defined timeline. The ability to decode the genetic blueprint of humans through whole genome sequencing will be a major driver for biomedical science.

‘Benefits of this initiative include epidemiology of genetic diseases to enable cost effective genetic tests, carrier screening applications for expectant couples, enabling efficient diagnosis of heritable cancers and pharmacogenetic tests to prevent adverse drug reactions.’, Vardhan said.

The outcomes of the IndiGen will be utilized towards understanding the genetic diversity on a population scale, make available genetic variant frequencies for clinical applications and enable genetic epidemiology of diseases. The whole genome data and knowhow for the analysis of large-scale genomic data is expected to enable evidence and aid in the development of technologies for clinical and biomedical applications in India.