Human Genome Project was a research program whose goal was to complete the mapping and understanding of all the genes of human beings. Genes are together are known as the genome. It was primarily conducted to develop research tools that would allow scientists to identify genes involved in both rare and common diseases.
It was a large international and multi-institutional effort that took 13 years and around 2.7 billion dollars to just produce a blueprint of the sequence of genes and the space between genes that make up a typical human genome.
The human genome has around 3 billion base pairs and in 1953 it wasn’t even possible to imagine extracting genetic information.
Advancement in technology has made the possibility glimpsed 60 years ago a reality.
Genomic Revolution in India
The potential benefit of HGP for India is providing new solutions to diseases like malaria, dengue, and chikungunya. The tools, techniques, and technologies that are going to be developed through HGP will be universally applicable to all organisms, especially at the earlier stage for organisms with smaller genomes, towards building individual genes and genomes efficiently and in an inexpensive manner.
For a country like India to gain gully from the genomic revolutions it needs to collect information about the genetics of its population and train manpower capable of interpreting it. The information that is needed has to come from a large and sustained collection of data- fully sequenced individual genomes along with medical histories for the individuals who volunteer for this effort.
The genetic distinctiveness of different Indian groups is in part of the results for endogamy in advance of a proper survey, some recent research has shown that endogamy is very likely to be medically significant.
While Human Genome Project will bring hope to India, there are a lot of potential concerns ranging from ethical to scientific. There are fears that humans through science will one day play God by synthesizing new genomes that would create new creatures. Then there are unintended side effects of releasing modified mosquitoes into the wild. There are also complex concerns about synthetic genes and genomes in the area of intellectual property rights.
No matter what the concerns are- and all of them being valid, yet the time is ripe for India to begin its genome revolution. We should also know that basic science does not give immediate results and requires time. As far as India is concerned it has reached a stage in world science where not participating in International efforts may bring more harm than good in the long run. For now, what is needed is a vision and leadership at the national level to leverage this and seize the day.