India unveiled the genetic map of its citizens. In one of the most startling revelations, the study said most Indians—Aryans of the North and Dravidians of the south-are genetically related.

The study conducted by the Center for Genomic Applications (TCGA), New Delhi has generated genetic information on over 4,000 genetic markers from over 1,000 biomedically important and pharmacogenetically relevant genes in reference populations encompassing diversity of populations from across the country.
Kapil Sibal, India’s Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences unveiled the study titled “Genetic Landscape of People of India: A Canvas for Disease Gene Exploration.”  Prof. Samir K. Brahmachari, Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), led the study, which is the largest scientific endeavor in the field of biology after green revolution.

The Indian Genome Variation Consortium, a CSIR network project was started independently in 2003 after it was decided that 45 samples could not represent the total diversity of India to build the next generation map of human genome initiated by the International HapMap Consortium.  “The objective was to create a basal data for disease profile and not to map genetic diversity. This is the first time anywhere in the world that a single country has been mapped to this extent”, added Prof Samir Brahmachari.

“India represents a global genetic mosaic in its population, said Sibal.”  The Indian population forms a continuum of genetic spectrum that not only bridges the Caucasians and Oriental Asians and includes indigenous populations derived mostly from Austro-Asiatic and Dravidian speaking population. “This means that now clinical trials to test the efficacy of drugs on all major populations can be conducted in India itself given such a spectrum.

“The study finds the absence of a known genetic marker against HIV-1 in India, which has enormous implications in terms of finding what populations are susceptible to what diseases and help us not only predict the diseases as well as the effectiveness of drugs for these diseases,” Sibal said.  The study indicates a strong association between the genetic and linguistic profiles in India and significant genetic differences in the association of disease-associated genetic markers.

The study has enormous practical implications. The data will  help in the construction of specific drug response maps to aid policy level decision making for drug dosage interventions and disease risk management for complex as well as infectious diseases. For instance, the study reveals that Indians are susceptible to HIV and diabetes. Hence knowing which populations stand the risk of a particular disease, management of that disease would be easier. “A large number of projects have been undertaken in the data for predictive marker discovery and XI th plan aimed at utilizing this basal pharmacogenomics,” Sibal added.