Genomics for India

14 March 2017

Interview with

Sumit Jamuar, Global Gene Corp

Last month saw the launch of the first ever so-called beacon for genomics focusing on India. Joining many other beacons around the globe, mostly focused in more developed countries, the Indian beacon is an online portal allowing researchers all over the world to search for genetic variations specific to populations from the Indian subcontinent. Put simply, a beacon is a website through which scientists can ask institutions and organisations holding human genomic data whether they have any data with a particular DNA variation in a specific place. All the data is anonymised, but it helps researchers to identify whether that institution is holding genetic data that might be useful to share, to help discover more effective drugs or other healthcare interventions. The Indian beacon is being lit by genetic technology company Global Gene Corp and the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH). Kat Arney spoke to Global Gene Corp’s CEO, Sumit Jamuar, to discover why it’s so important to shift focus towards Indian genetics.

Sumit - The world spends about $1 trillion on drugs every year. Of that, when you look at various studies, just over 40 per cent is deemed to be overall not effective. So what it means is we are spending just over $400 billion of money on drugs which do not have an effect. That creates a phenomenal amount of wastage out there. Technology and the fact that you can have genomic data and you can have data about every individual, and the fact that we can tailor the treatment to them or in some cases, we can ward off certain risks in advance. It’s a phenomenal promise because that's what is needed because we will have to find the saving from some place and we will have to make things better. We realised that 60 per cent of the world’s population was contributing less than 5 per cent of genomic data. When we started out, that number was less than 1 per cent and that’s a staggering number. When we looked at a place like India which is 1.3 billion people, has got 20 per cent of the world’s population, it contributed only about 0.2 per cent of genomic data. What we realised was, if you look at the power and possibility of genomics particularly around precision medicine where you can change the health outcome for every individual, and allow them to have, not only a longer but a better quality life, that promise is incredible. What that was lacking was genomic data to realise that promise and that’s what we have set up to achieve.

Kat - Sumit Jamuar from Global Gene Corp.


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