7 years since the human genome was first decoded, India too managed to decode the complete human genome of a 52 year old healthy man from Jharkhand and join the elite list of nations like US, UK, China, Canada and South Korea.
Unlike the select club of countries having nuclear warhead capabilities, this achievement is more akin to the capability of India to launch satellites in space and has similar commercial applications.
The immense business potential of human genome mapping is testified by the fact that one of the first drafts of human genome was not produced by a government conglomerate, but was published by Celera , a private company under the leadership of Craig Venter.
In India, though, predictably , the human genome mapping efforts have been spearheaded by government organizations with the Institute of Genomics and Integrative biology (IGIB) leading the effort under the auspices of CSIR (council of scientific and Industrial research).
The questions is shouldn’t this feat of achievement come form private sector and wouldn’t it be more of a happy outcome if the private sector in India was as enterprising as in the west when it comes to the biotech/healthcare segment.
The tech and internet segment is showing nascent start-up activity and entrepreneurial spirit in India; how long before it percolates to other emerging and promising sectors like biotech and healthcare?
The human genome mapping enables enhanced diagnostics, better tailoring of drugs and treatments and has widespread implications for research and practice in the health care segment.
One should definitely celebrate the entry into elite club; but the effort so far has been driven by government. What I would like see more going forth is more industry collaboration and more private sector activity when it comes to utilizing the human genome data so obtained.
What do you think? Is the feat, 7 years after initial sequencing,at a minuscule cost of the same, but driven solely by government efforts, a cause for celebration, or a cause of concern?