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Fund cloud on Indian gene data

Four ethnic groups from India may not be part of a global genome project because Indian scientists are struggling to find funds for it.

delhi Updated: Jul 11, 2010 00:50 IST

Four ethnic groups from India may not be part of a global genome project because Indian scientists are struggling to find funds for it.

The four groups are the Ahoms of Assam, Kayasthas of northern India, Marathas of western India and Reddys of southern India.

In a global effort to unlock the genetic cause of diseases, scientists are working on the 1,000 Genomes Project plan to map genes of 2,500 people from 27 ethnic groups. The goal is to create the biggest database of human genetic diversity.

Just last week, 1,000 genomes released the results of three pilot studies.

Previous studies have shown Indians display more genetic diversity than any other group except for Africans.

“Indian populations represent nearly 4,600 anthropologically defined populations that are organised into castes, sub-castes and primitive tribes,” Lalji Singh, former director of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, told HT. Singh, along with two other researchers, was part of initial project meetings.

But participating in the effort will require Indian scientists to take genetic samples from about 400 people, for which they have applied for funds to the Wellcome Trust, the organisation spearheading the project.

“We have not yet started any work on the 1,000 Genomes Project. We are waiting to hear back from the funding agency,” said Partha Majumder, director of the Indian Institute of Biomedical Genomics.

Singh said the project had been approved in principle, but India lacks the funds and infrastructure to do it alone.