From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Genome Sequencing
Mains level : Applications of Genome Sequencing
- In an indigenous genetic mapping effort, nearly 1,000 rural youth from the length and breadth of India will have their genomes sequenced by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
- A genome is all of a living thing’s genetic material. It is the entire set of hereditary instructions for building, running, and maintaining an organism, and passing life on to the next generation.
- Genome sequencing is figuring out the order of DNA nucleotides, or bases, in a genome—the order of As, Cs, Gs, and Ts that make up an organism’s DNA.
- The human genome is made up of over 3 billion of these genetic letters.
- Ever since the human genome was first sequenced in 2003, it opened a fresh perspective on the link between disease and the unique genetic make-up of each individual.
- Nearly 10,000 diseases — including cystic fibrosis, thalassemia — are known to be the result of a single gene malfunctioning.
- While genes may render some insensitive to certain drugs, genome sequencing has shown that cancer too can be understood from the viewpoint of genetics, rather than being seen as a disease of certain organs.
About the Project
- The CSIR project aims at educating a generation of students on the “usefulness” of genomics.
- It would involve the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).
- This is the first time that such a large sample of at least 10,000 Indian genomes will be recruited for a detailed study.
- The project is an adjunct to a much larger government-led programme, still in the works, to sequence at least 10,000 Indian genomes.
- Typically, those recruited as part of genome-sample collections are representative of the country’s population diversity.
- The bulk of them will be college students, both men and women, and pursuing degrees in the life sciences or biology.
- Genomes will be sequenced based on a blood sample and the scientists plan to hold at least 30 camps covering most States.
- Every person whose genomes are sequenced will be given a report.
- The participants would be told if they carry gene variants that make them less responsive to certain classes of medicines.
Utility of the Project
- Globally, many countries have undertaken genome sequencing of a sample of their citizens to determine unique genetic traits, susceptibility (and resilience) to disease.
- The project would prove India’s capabilities at executing whole-genome sequencing.
- The human genome has about 3.2 billion base pairs and just 10 years ago cost about 10,000 dollars. Now prices have fallen to a tenth.
Ethical issues involved
- For instance, having a certain gene makes some people less responsive to clopidogrel, a key drug that prevents strokes and heart attack.
- CSIR won’t share such information in the report. A person can request such information through their clinician because many disorders have single-gene causes but no cure or even a line of treatment.
- Ethics require such information to be shared only after appropriate counselling.