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Transformative Benefits of Population-level Genome Sequencing

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • Over the last decade, genomics has undergone a revolutionary shift with improved technologies, reducing the cost of whole-genome sequencing.
  • Population-scale genome sequencing programs have emerged, decoding the genetic makeup of large populations.

 

deCODE Initiative

·       Initiated in Iceland in 1996 by deCODE genomics, encouraging large-scale population genetic studies.

·       Contributed to understanding diseases, risk assessment, and set standards for handling large-scale genomic data.

 

 

More about the Global Initiatives

  • Numerous countries and organizations worldwide are engaged in population-scale genome initiatives.
  • Initiatives include the ‘100K Genome’ project in the UK, ‘1+ Million Genomes’ in the European Union, and ‘Three Million African Genomes.’
  • Objectives include understanding disease prevalence, biomarkers, and therapeutic targets.
  • Some programs aim to build scalable public-health initiatives using genomic data for decision-making and medical care.
  • Moreover, the cost of whole-genome sequencing is decreasing, making it more accessible.
  • Growing evidence of the data’s usefulness suggests a significant number of individuals worldwide may have their genomes sequenced.
  • Ethical Challenges: Concerns include equitable representation, access, and potential misuse of genetic data.
  • Regulatory Frameworks: Some countries, like the U.S., have established regulatory frameworks (e.g., Genetic Information Non-discrimination Act) to prevent misuse of genetic data.

 

·       The GenomeAsia project aims to sequence a lakh whole-genomes from diverse populations.

·       The IndiGen pilot program and the GenomeIndia initiative are contributing to population-level sequencing in India.

·       The UK announced the completion of half a million whole-genome sequences, constituting almost 0.7% of its population. These datasets are transformative, offering unprecedented insights into human diversity.

 

Conclusion

  • Population-scale genomics extends beyond individual health to shape our understanding of human evolution, migration, and adaptation.
  • Contributes significantly to knowledge of human biology and stands at the forefront of a genomic revolution.

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