Need for Genome Sequencing Surveillance

Need for Genome Sequencing Surveillance

News Analysis   /   Need for Genome Sequencing Surveillance

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Published on: April 15, 2023

Source: WHO


Amid rising cases of coronavirus in West Bengal, the state Covid advisory board on Friday stressed the need for stepping up genome sequencing surveillance to keep tabs on the situation.

What is Genome Sequencing?

The process of deciphering the exact order of base pairs in an individual is known as genome sequencing. What sequencing is all about is “deciphering” or reading the genome.

The cost of sequencing varies depending on the methods used to read the genome or the accuracy required in decoding the genome.

Need for genome sequencing:

  1. Since the human genome was first sequenced in 2003, it has provided a new perspective on the relationship between disease and each individual’s unique genetic make-up.
  2. It is now known that nearly 10,000 diseases, including cystic fibrosis and thalassemia, are caused by a single gene malfunction.
  3. While genes may make some people resistant to certain drugs, genome sequencing has shown that cancer, too, can be understood through genetics rather than being viewed as a disease of specific organs.

India’s Genome Sequencing Efforts:

The Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) sequenced the entire genome of a novel coronavirus.

IndiGen Genome Project:

  • In April 2019, the CSIR launched the IndiGen initiative, which was carried out by the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) in Delhi and the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad.
  • Using population genome data, the goal is to enable genetic epidemiology and develop public health technology applications.
  • This has allowed us to benchmark the scalability of genome sequencing and computational analysis at the population scale within a specific time frame.
  • The ability to decode humans’ genetic blueprint via whole genome sequencing will be a major driving force in biomedical science.
  • The IndiGen programme aims to sequence the entire genomes of thousands of Indians from various ethnic groups.

Genome India:

The Indian government recently approved a gene-mapping project called “Genome India.”

To construct a grid of the Indian “reference genome” in order to fully understand the types and nature of diseases and traits found in the diverse Indian population.

The Centre for Brain Research at Bengaluru’s Indian Institute of Science serves as the nodal point for approximately 20 institutions.

India’s Genome Sequencing Challenges:

  1. Very high goal: The goal was to sequence at least 5% of the samples, the bare minimum required to keep track of virus variants. This has so far been around 1%, owing to a lack of reagents and tools required to scale up the process.
  2. Limited Capacity: The ten laboratories can sequence about 30,000 samples per month, or 1,000 per day, which is six times less than what is required to meet the target.
  3. Funding crunch: Funding is repeatedly delayed. INSACOG requested Rs 100 crore, but funding did not arrive until March, when it received Rs 70 crore.
  4. Sample Collection: The healthcare system is already overburdened, and this is another task for them to sort and package samples and RNA preparations on a regular basis for shipping in a cold chain to sequencing centres, as well as record extensive metadata to make sequence information useful.
  5. Import Dependence: The Atma Nirbhar scheme, which prohibited imports of goods worth less than Rs 200 crore in order to promote local procurement, slowed the process of genome sequencing. Even after the exemption, some special plastics inadvertently remained subject to the import ban, causing problems with the process.
  6. International aspect: India’s image abroad suffers as a result of slow progress in genome sequencing, as all countries are required to upload data to a common global repository known as the ‘Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data,’ or GISAID.


Given the benefits of genome sequencing, it will aid in a better understanding of the human body and processes, as well as in the treatment of previously incurable diseases.

Although there are some issues and challenges, they are manageable and can be resolved.

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