Updated on 2 August 2012
Secondly, by the use of NGS, it has become far easier and quicker to map genes for diseases that are due to alterations in one or a few genes. I do not think that NGS has had a major impact on the life-sciences industry yet, either in India or elsewhere, but various information technology companies have begun to specialize in the analyses of massive data sets generated by NGS platforms.
Could you shed some light on the research that you are conducting?
The activities of the TCG-ISI Center for Population Genomics (CpG) has dwindled in the past two years as a result of my taking on the responsibility to establish a new institute of the Government of India - the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics in Kalyani, West Bengal. However, in the preceding five years, there were two main research projects that we had conducted from the CpG pedestal. These included identifying genetic factors underlying the high susceptibility to cardiovascular diseases among the Marwari community, who migrated from Rajasthan about 300 years ago and settled down in Kolkata; and identifying the genetic factors that are responsible for individuals being poorly responsive to vaccines for typhoid and cholera.
Both these projects have yielded interesting scientific results. We have been able to identify a strong association of a genetic variant with cardiovascular disease among the Marwari community. We have also been able to identify several genetic variants that associate with poor immunological response to typhoid and cholera vaccines.
What challenges do you face in the field of NGS?
The greatest challenges have been to devise appropriate statistical methods and analytical pipelines to draw valid and generalizable inferences from NGS data; data storage; and prohibitively high costs.