CCMB Current Affairs - 2019

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What is IndiGen Genome project?

The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) has conducted a Whole Genome Sequencing of around 1,008 Indians from different populations across country in order to generate data on genetic diseases and to know risk of genetic diseases in future generations. The project is called as IndiGen Genome project.

Highlights of IndiGen Genome project

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

The outcome of project will have applications in a number of areas such as predictive and preventive medicine with faster and efficient diagnosis of rare genetic diseases.

The whole-genome data will be important for building the knowhow, baseline data and indigenous capacity in emerging area of Precision Medicine.

Benefits of Initiative

The ability to decode genetic blueprint of humans through whole-genome sequencing will be a major driver for- biomedical science, epidemiology of genetic diseases to enable cost-effective genetic tests, enabling efficient diagnosis of heritable cancers, carrier screening applications for expectant couples and pharmacogenetic tests to prevent adverse drug reactions.

Moreover, the outcomes of IndiGen project will be utilized towards understanding genetic diversity on a population scale thus making available genetic variant frequencies for clinical applications and enabling genetic epidemiology of diseases.

The whole genome data and knowhow for analysis of large scale genomic data is expected to enable evidence and aid in development of technologies for clinical and biomedical applications in India.

It will also ensure that India with its unparalleled human diversity is adequately represented in terms of genomic data and develops indigenous capacity to generate, analyze, maintain, utilize and communicate large-scale genome data in a scalable manner.

Scientists sequence Asiatic lion’s Genome for the first time

The scientists from Council of Scientific & Industrial Research’s (CSIR)-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, for the first time sequenced the entire genome of Asiatic lion.

Key Highlights of Study

  • The population of Asiatic lion, an endangered species is very low. At present only 523 animals are found in the Gir forests in Gujarat.
  • Need for Conservation: The study of genomes unraveled evolutionary history of Asiatic lion. It noted that evaluation of genetic diversity (i.e. the total number of genetic characteristics of a species which serves as a way for populations to adapt to changing environments) placed Asiatic lion in lowest bracket of genomic diversity index which highlights the gravity of its conservation status.
  • Multi-Pronged Approach: As per scientist for conservation of Asiatic lions it is crucial to adopt a multi-pronged approach. Therefore, genome study which will identifying characteristics which are specific to Asiatic lions will enable better population and disease management of endangered big cat.
  • Importance: The genome sequencing of Asiatic lions would enable scientists to better understand their evolution. With better understanding they can develop specific markers to study Asiatic lion’s population genetics (it means the differences at gene level within a population) and can further get newer insights into their population status and subsequent management.
  • Significance: Until now only partial genomic information of African lion is available. Therefore a comparative genomics between both African lion and Asiatic lions can only be undertaken once complete genome of African lion is sequenced. Therefore, once complete genome of African Cheetah, Royal Bengal tiger, and Jaguar will be available, the comparative studies of all these big cats would be possible.
  • This signifies that final objective of scientists is to understand species at DNA level and study that if there are any specific problems with regard to adaptability of Asiatic Lion to environment or behaviour vis-à-vis other big cats.

About Asiatic Lion

  • They are also known as Indian Lion, and Scientific Name is Panthera Leo Persica.
  • IUCN Red List Status: Endangered
  • They are also Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, in Appendix I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
  • At present the only home of Asiatic lion is Gir National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary in Gujarat.
  • Threats: Asiatic lion presently exists as a single sub-population. They are vulnerable to extinction from unpredictable events, like epidemic or large forest fire and in recent years poaching incidents were also indicated.