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India sequences its first human genome

18 January 2010
Appeared in BioNews 541

India has sequenced its first full human genome becoming the sixth country to do so, according to the Indian Government. The genome of a 52-year-old man from Jharkhand, eastern India, was reportedly sequenced by a top Indian science research body at a cost of $30,000. The breakthrough will help pharmaceutical companies develop drugs better suited to Indian physiology, according to India's Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

'This is a unique achievement in the field of science. The US, UK, China, Canada and (South) Korea are the other countries which have achieved it before us', Indian Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan told the Indian press.

A cluster of computers at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), a CSIR lab in New Delhi, with one teraflop of processing power were used for sequencing, the Council said. Sequencing took six weeks, excluding background research. 'This is only the first step. A decade back, we couldn't afford to do this and had to watch other scientists work at deciphering the human genome', Samir Brahmachari, CSIR Director General told reporters.

But some Indian scientists have criticised the CSIR for announcing its achievement to the press before publishing in a peer-reviewed journal, according to Pushpa Bhargava, founder of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, reportedly said: 'These are the sort of statements that will bring down the credibility of Indian science'.

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