IndiGen Project

Relevance: The government has cleared an ambitious gene-mapping project that is being described by those involved as the “first scratching of the surface of the vast genetic diversity of India”.

What is the IndiGen Project? -IndiGen programme aims to undertake whole genome sequencing of thousands of individuals representing diverse ethnic groups from India. The objective is to enable genetic epidemiology and develop public health technologies applications using population genome data. Its aim is to ultimately build a grid of the Indian “reference genome”, to understand fully the type and nature of diseases and traits that comprise the diverse Indian population. For example, if the Northeast sees a tendency towards a specific disease, interventions can be made in the region, assisting public health, which make it easier to battle the illness. The mega project hopes to form a grid after collecting 10,000 samples in the first phase from across India, to arrive at a representative Indian genome. The project will aim to make predictive diagnostic markers available for some priority diseases such as cancer and other rare and genetic disorders. 

Benefits –

  • Mapping the diversity of India’s genetic pool will lay the bedrock of personalised medicine and put it on the global map.
  • Considering the diversity of population in our country, and the disease burden of complex disorders, including diabetes, mental health, etc., once we have a genetic basis, it may be possible to take action before the onset of a disease.

Practice Question – What is the relevance of IndiGen project in the field of genome mapping? Highlight the benefits of the IndiGen project.