Could Genome Research Council under public-private partnership be a way forward for India’s human genome program?
Recent news from CSIR and Dept of Biotechnology to initiate India-specific human genome sequencing program is indeed encouraging and a great step forward. It is important to acknowledge the effort and support by the scientific and political dispensation at the helm of affairs, to provide necessary approval. This dream could have been achieved more than 25 years ago in 1993, when the three leading genomic experts Prof. Lalji Singh, Prof. Samir Brahmachari and Prof. Partha Majumdar wanted India to be a part of International Human Genome mapping program. Had India participated in the program with its own terms and conditions the scenario of genomic technologies, translational initiatives and genetic counselling would have been completely different today.
This is evident from the growth and developments in genomic front in China. China agreed to be a part of this International Human Genome mapping program and today it stands as a world leader in many spheres of genomic initiatives, which is evident from the growth of Beijing Genome Institute (BGI) becoming the largest genomic company in the world. Even its offshoots such as MGI which after acquiring the second largest genomic technology company ‘The Complete Genomics’, pose a serious threat to the leaders of genomic technologies such as Illumina.
In the last 25 years genomic technologies have evolved faster than the computing technologies, and the forecast of genomic market of $140 billion by 2026 is indeed an underestimate. However, in terms of market size it is bigger than the pharma market even today. Besides, if one has to evaluate the positive versus negative outcome one can be very sure that genomic industry has only positive outcome which can either be big or small but no negative outcome.one can be very sure that genomic industry has only positive outcome which can either be big or small but no negative outcome. The Human Genome program started by Prof. James Watson and the Human Genome Diversity program conceptualised by Prof. Cavalli Sforza had already proven the impact of the human genome initiatives.
In fact, in today’s world it is needless to say that every researcher is dependent on the information generated from these initiatives which definitely defines the quantum of loss that India had to suffer due to non-participation in the International Genome mapping program. In the last 25 years several countries initiated their own One Million genome program and have either completed or nearing completion. These countries include, USA, UK, China, Japan, Australia, France, UAE (Dubai), Netherland, Finland, Germany, Turkey, Estonia, Singapore and Saudi Arabia. It is also important to note that Indians have participated as a community in the genome initiatives of these countries too.