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Biotechnology

A massive genome-sequencing effort is coming to India

March 19, 2018

Singapore-based genomics company Global Gene Corp is partnering with biotech giant Regeneron to build the largest collection of DNA sequenced from people in India.

Why India? The lack of diversity in genomic data is a problem. Most of the worldwide genomic data available to researchers is from people of European heritage. India is home to 1.3 billion people and represents 20 percent of the world’s population, yet less than 1 percent of the world’s genomic data comes from the subcontinent.

The goal: Global Gene Corp didn’t say exactly how many genomes it hopes to sequence over the next few years but said the project will be on the scale of Genomics England, which aims to sequence 100,000 people’s genomes in the UK. The DNA sequences generated from the Indian effort will be paired with people’s medical records to look for genetic links to disease.

Why it matters: Studying Indian genomes could uncover unique genetic risk factors for diseases and explain why some ailments occur more or less often in Indian populations than in Westerners. It could also help identify new or better drugs. “Our view is to drive the same change in health care through genomics that the mobile revolution brought to India,” says Global Gene Corp CEO Sumit Jamuar.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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