Genome Sequencing Current Affairs - 2019

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CCMB unveils new Next Gen Sequencing facility

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, inaugurated Next Generation Sequencing (NSG) facility at Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), a CSIR lab in Hyderabad, Telangana.

About Next Generation Sequencing (NSG) Facility

It would include technology for high genome sequencing and also diagnostic sequencing of clinical samples. It is 4th such facility in the country.

It is a state-of-the-art genome sequencing facility that can sequence 18,000 samples in 8 minutes. It is acquired at a cost of Rs.8 crore.

It can sequence 30 human genomes a day (or 384 diagnostic samples in a day). It would costs around ₹1 lakh to sequence one genome using this facility.

Applications:

It would help prenatal genetic screening and counselling, thus generating large scale genomic data critical for diagnosis and therapy.

It would especially help patients suffering from rare genetic disorders.

It would help in finding drugs for rare genetic diseases, which drug industry does not manufacture because of high costs involved.

By using NSG facility, scientists hope to find genetic cause of rare diseases and develop kits that can be used to find population at risk of genetic/other rare diseases

Significance: Much of existing body of knowledge for therapies for genetic diseases comes from studies done with Caucasian populations but this new NSG facility would help in generating large-scale genomic data from Indian populations, which was critical for genetic diagnosis and therapy.

Way Ahead: There is a need to develop Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR) and ensure that research is transferred to industry, and help public at large.

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.