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April 25-26 – James Watson, a biologist from Indiana University, and Francis Crick, a physicist, were working at the Cavendish Lab in Cambridge, England on the structure of DNA. On Saturday, February 28, 1953 it is reported that Crick came into the Eagle, a Cambridge pub, and announced to everyone there that they had “found the secret of life”. In 1953 they proposed the double helix model of DNA. In April of 1953 the Watson and Crick paper appeared in the journal Nature 171: 737-738 & 964-967 (1953). US Congress declared April 25th 2003 as DNA Day to celebrate the completion of the human genome project and the 50th anniversary of the description of DNA.

In this regard Biotechnology Society of Nepal (BSN) has been celebrating “World DNA Day” every year since 2008 by organizing different talk programs, seminars, documentary shows and student awareness programs. This year also the day was celebrated under the theme “Biotech Youth Meet 2011” at White House institute of Science and Technology (WHIST), Khumlaltar. Over 250 students from biotechnology and applied biological sciences studying at Kathmandu University, Tribhuvan University, WHIST, SANN International College, LBEF College and GEMS institute of Higher education and other different colleges participated. The program was also attendant by more than 50 scientists and researchers from government institutions like NAST, NARC, NAFOL, Government delegates from Public Service Commission (PSC) and Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) and private sectors.

In the program Mr. Jivan Rijal from NAFOL stressed the need of DNA Databank for crime investigation, identification of missing individuals and wildlife management. He also sought for clear act and rules, appropriate education for judges and law students and support for scientific community for making the judgment based on scientific evidence.

Speaking at the program, Mr. Dibesh Karmacharya, Executive Director of Intrepid Nepal Pvt. Ltd. emphasized on the 3-C (Communicate, Collaborate and build the biotech Community) for the development of biotechnology in Nepal. Similarly, Dr. Sameer M. Dixit, Country Director of Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal (CMDN) highlighted the role of biotechnology in public health and biomedical research.

Speaking at the program, Dr. Kayo Devi Yami, acting chair person PSC of Nepal stressed on need of taskforce comprising researchers, scientists, biotech graduates and concerned stakeholders to pressure the concern ministries and line agencies to recruit the biotech graduates via PSC. She also clarified that PSC only cannot recognize the biotech graduates until the concerned ministries demand for the post and also assured that PSC will work at high speed in developing curriculum for recognition of those graduates.

During the program, Mr. Ganesh Shah, former minister, MoST wished for capturing first Nobel Prize for Nepal in the field of biotechnology by encouraging the scientific community and graduates and assured that he is dedicated for the development for biotechnology in Nepal. He also said about the entrepreneurial activity apart from research for contributing economic growth of the country. He added that unification in work and sharing of facilities currently available is inevitable for sustainability and growth.

Mr. Mukunda Raj Prakash Gimire, Joint Secretary of MoST and also the Coordinator of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics Technical Team said that government is working for the development of Biotechnology and also highlighted the Biotechnology policy of Nepal 2063.

Speaking at the program, Dr. Dinesh Raj Bhuju, Head of Faculty of Science, NAST focused on the facilities and opportunities available for biotechnology graduates and future works of NAST in this field.

Similarly, Dr. Mukunda Ranjit, President of Nepal Biotech Association (NBA) highlighted the need of government investment, as India has done in early 90s, for the development of Biotechnology.

Similarly, Dr. Janardan Lamichhane, Vice President of Regional Branch Office, Asian Federation of Biotechnology (AFOB) emphasized the need of technology transfer and collaboration among different international research institutions for capacity building and establishment of state-of-the- art facilities.

Speaking at the program, Mr. Rajiv Singh, Head of Institute, WHIST highlighted the need of collaborative effort among different biotech institutions for upliftment of biotechnology and development competent graduates.

In the program, Mr. Ravi Bhandari, Vice President of BSN highlighted current projects of BSN like e-bulletin, e-interview, article on demand (AOD), brain drain to brain gain and BSN journal entitled Nepal Journal of Biotechnology (NJB) which will ultimately enhance the academic knowledge of students, scientists and researchers in this field. He also added that BSN will come up with new projects and opportunities for them.

Mr. Prajwal Rajbhandari, a MS by Research (Bio-Technology) graduate from Kathmandu University focused on the unity among biotech graduates, faculty members for uplifting new born subject in Nepal and role of BSN in fulfilling this. Similarly, Mr. Hemanta Raj Mainali, Teaching Assistant and Biotech graduate from Department of Biotechnology, Kathmandu University said that involvement of youth is inevitable for development of biotechnology in Nepal and need of such program for making the awareness among the different stakeholders for collaborative effort.

The program was organized by Biotechnology Society of Nepal (BSN), sponsored by WHIST and supported by JHS Analytic Trader, Menaka Enterprizes, Intrepid Nepal, Chaudhary Group, Himalaya Distillery, GEMS/AUF and Everest Biotech.

Also, on 26th of April, Mitra Kunj/Nepal Science and Technology Development Forum/ Russia Centre of Science and Culture headed by Mr Ganesh Shah also celebrated World DNA Day on the topic “Talk program on Biotechnology”. Speaker for the program were Dr. Janardan Lamichhane, Associate Professor at Department of Biotechnology, Kathmandu University and Dr. Pramod Aryal, Chief Scientific Officer at Deurali Janata Biotech Pharma, a Biotech wing of renowned pharmaceutical company Deurali Janata Pharmaceuticals Limited (DJPL).

Core Team of the Biotech Youth Meet 2011

Organizing Team of Biotech Youth Meet - 2011

– by Dr. Sameer M. Dixit and Prof. Dr. Meeta Singh

Cervical cancer is the most preventable cancer in women. Ironically, it is also the biggest killer amongst all cancers in Nepali women. All women that are sexually-active are at risk of contracting it. Although there are no clear reports, it is estimated that 20 percent of all female cancers is linked to cervical cancer, most of those being in advanced clinical stages. Annually, in Nepal, there are an estimated 1,100 deaths due to cervical cancer.

Research worldwide has shown that Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is the major cause of cervical cancer in women. Specifically, about 5 types of HPV (16, 18, 31, 32 and 45) among about 100 known strains have been linked to cervical cancer. According to literature, persistence infection with one of 15 high-risk HPV types is considered a necessary cause for cervical cancer. Estimates worldwide have suggested that types 16 and 18 account for 70 percent of all cervical cancers. In Asia, this has been liked to 67 percent of all cervical cancers, with Southern Asia (where Nepal is located) linked to 80 percent of all cervical cancers.

There are preventive vaccines already developed and being used in developed countries against at least four of the high-risk HPV groups. Gardasil (manufactured by Merck) protects against HPV 6, 11, 16 and 18. Cervarix (manufactured by Glaxo Smithkline) protects against 16 and 18. These are recommended for young girls in three shots (primary and booster dosage).

In the United States, the Center for Disease Control recommends that female patients start regular cervical cancer screening at the age of 21 or within three years after first having sexual intercourse. The first test for the screening test for cancer of the cervix is the pap test which detects precancerous or cancers cells. The second recommended test is the HPV test, which looks for the human papillomavirus that can cause these cell changes leading to cervical cancer. While the smear test can be carried out by most pathology laboratories, HPV test requires advanced laboratory setup. In US and other developed countries, early intervention is now made possible by molecular detection technologies such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or real-time PCR. These tests enable detection of high-risk HPV in the cervix rather than relying on histopathological results alone. Thus, by regular screening for HPV, it is now possible to reduce the risk of developing cancer in women worldwide.

For a developing country like Nepal, accurate screening of cases of cancer of the cervix in Nepal continues to be a major problem. Very little, if any, literature reports exist on the type of HPV present in the population, and in cervical cancer cases. Even World Health Organization (WHO) does not have data on Nepali context to come up with an effective solution to the problem. Even though vaccines exist, without the knowledge of the HPV type prevalent here, the usefulness of such vaccines in Nepal is not proven.

Women who are sexually-active should visit their gynecologist for cervical cancer screening. Cervical cancer is totally preventable, so there is no excuse for not getting tested for it.

Molecular detection of HPV and its strain identification has never been tried in Nepali laboratories before. The primary screening method used in Nepal is the Pap Test – Pap smears can detect cervical cancers if smears are taken properly and interpreted by an experienced expert cytologist. Pap smears may not provide accurate detection of all suspect cases if the smear sample is not taken properly. However, if we can even screen some of the early stage cervical cancer patients using novel molecular tools such as PCR, we could be saving many more lives. PCR could be the preferred and more efficient method of detection of HPV and thereby detect cancer cervix in our country where there are very few pathologists. It must be taken into account that just the presence of HPV in the cervix does not necessarily indicate cervical cancer risk. In most cases, the low-risk viruses are shed off by the body automatically. However, detection of the virus provides the gynecologist evidence to screen the patient at regular intervals, thereby enabling early detection of abnormal cellular morphology in the case of cancer. Identification of any of the high-risk HPV is thus the key to early intervention of cervical cancer.

It is, therefore, highly recommended for all women who are sexually-active to visit their preferred gynecologist for cervical cancer screening. HPV type molecular screening is also now available in the city. October of every year is dedicated to cancer, worldwide. Cervical cancer is totally preventable, so there is no excuse for not getting tested for it.

Dr. Dixit is associated with the Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal (CMDN). Dr. Singh is Head of Department, Gynecology/Obstetrics, Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH). CMDN in collaboration with Dept of Gynecology/Obstetrics, TUTH, is in the process of initiating HPV type study into cervical cancer in Nepal.

This article has been taken from The Republica National Daily


The Himalayan Times National Daily, 31st October 2010

– दयानन्द बज्राचार्य

चितवनकी नीता गुरुङले २०५८ माघ ४ मा आफूले जन्माएको छोराका बाबु राजीव गुरुङ भएको जिकिर गरे पनि राजीवले बच्चालाई आफ्नो छोरा स्वीकार नगरेपछि उनले अदालतमा मुद्दा दायर गरिन्। मुद्दा सर्वोच्च अदालतसम्म पुग्यो। खुमलटारस्थित राष्ट्रिय विधि विज्ञान प्रयोगशालामा गरिएको डीएनए परीक्षणले बच्चाका बाबु राजीव होइनन् भन्ने प्रतिवेदन दियो। सञ्चारमाध्यममा आएको समाचारअनुसार सर्वोच्च अदालतबाट डीएनए परीक्षणको नतिजालाई इन्कार गर्दै जिल्ला र पुनरावेदन अदालतको पूर्व फैसलालाई नै सदर गरी बच्चाको बाबु राजीव नै भएको ठहर गरियो।

विज्ञान र प्रविधिका क्षेत्रमा भएका पछिल्ला उपलब्धिले अन्य क्षेत्रजस्तै प्रहरी, अपराध अनुसन्धान र न्यायक्षेत्र पनि लाभान्वित भएका छन्। फोरेन्सिक साइन्स अर्थात् विधि विज्ञानका नामले चिनिने विज्ञानको यस विशेष क्षेत्रमा पछिल्लो समयमा ठूलो प्रगति भएको छ। डीएनए परीक्षण प्रहरी अनुसन्धान र न्याय सम्पादनमा ठूलो योगदान पुर्‍याउने पछिल्लो प्रगति हो।

नेपालमा सन् १९८६ मा नेपाल विज्ञान तथा प्रविधि प्रज्ञाप्रतिष्ठान अन्तर्गत स्थापित र हाल विज्ञान तथा प्रविधि मन्त्रालयअन्तर्गत सञ्चालित राष्ट्रिय विधि विज्ञान प्रयोगशालाले सन् २००५ देखि डीएनए परीक्षण सुरु गर्न थालेको हो। देशभित्रै डीएनए परीक्षणको सुविधा उपलब्ध हुनुलाई देशमा वैज्ञानिक क्षमताको विकासका रूपमा लिन सकिन्छ, तर उक्त प्रयोगशालाको प्रतिवेदनले मान्यता नपाउनाले देशभित्र विकास गरिएको डीएनए परीक्षणको क्षमतामाथि प्रश्न चिन्ह लागेको छ।

हिजोआज डीएनए र डीएनए परीक्षण सर्वसाधारणका लागि पनि चासोको विषय बनेको छ। हुनत धेरैलाई यस विषयबारे राम्रो ज्ञान भने छैन। तसर्थ सामान्य पाठकको हितका लागि डीएनए र डीएनए परीक्षणबारे चर्चा गर्नु उपयुक्त हुनेछ। यसबाट नीता-राजीव मुद्दाको फैसलामा डीएनए परीक्षणको महत्व बुझ्न पनि पाठकलाई मद्दत पुग्नेछ।

मानव शरीरको प्रत्येक कोषिकाभित्र न्युक्लियस अर्थात् केन्›क नाम गरेको एक अङ्गक हुन्छ। ती न्युक्लियसभित्र ससाना संरचना हुन्छन्, जसलाई क्रोमोजोम अर्थात् गुणसूत्र भनिन्छ। मानिसमा यसको सङ्ख्या ४६ हुन्छ। यिनै क्रोमोजोममा डीएनए अवस्थित हुन्छ। डीएनए तिनै तत्व हुन् जसले कुनै पनि जीवको आनुवंशिक गुण निर्धारण गर्छ। डीएनएको पूरा नाम हो – डिअक्सिरिबो न्युक्लिक एसिड।

न्युक्लियसका अतिरिक्त कोषिकाभित्र हजारौंको संख्यामा रहेका माइटोकन्ड्रिया नामक अङ्गकमा पनि डीएनए पाइन्छ। तर माइटोकन्ड्रियामा पाइने डीएनएले न्युक्लियसमा पाइने डीएनएले जस्तो जीवको आनुवंशिक गुण निर्धारण गर्दैनन्। माइटोकन्ड्रियाको प्रमुख भूमिका जीवका लागि अपरिहार्य ऊर्जा उत्पादन गर्नु हो र यसमा अवस्थित डीएनएको छुट्टै भूमिका हुन्छ।

डीएनए निकै मसिना धागोजस्ता वस्तु हुन् जसको व्यास मानव शरीरको रौँभन्दा १४ हजार ४ सय गुण सानो हुन्छ। मानव शरीरको प्रत्येक कोषिकामा एकैनासका डीएनए हुन्छन्। तर सबै कोषिकामा सबै डीएनए एकै पटक क्रियाशील हुँदैनन्। कुनै अङ्गका कोषिकामा कुनै प्रकारका डीएनए क्रियाशील हुन्छन् भने अर्को अङ्गको कोषिकामा अर्कै डीएनए क्रियाशील हुन्छन्।

कुनै पनि जीवको डीएनए मूलतः एडिनिन, थाइमिन, साइटोसिन र ग्वायानिन नामक चार विशेष प्रकारका महत्वपूर्ण रासायनिक तत्वबाट निर्मित हुन्छ। एउटा मानव कोषिकाभित्र करिब ६ अर्ब यस्ता तत्वहरू हुन्छन्। ती चार रसायनिक तत्वलाई क्रमशः अङ्ग्रेजी भाषाका चार अक्षर ‘ए’, ‘टी’, ‘सी’, ‘जी’ले सम्बोधन गरिन्छ। वास्तवमा ती जटिल प्रकारका रसायनिक तत्वहरू हुन्, तर चलनचल्तीमा डीएनएको बयान गर्न वैज्ञानिकहरूले रसायनिक नामको सट्टा यिनै अक्षरहरूको प्रयोग गर्छन्। एउटा डीएनएको अणुमा केही दर्जनदेखि हजारौं ‘ए’, ‘टी’, ‘सी’, ‘जी’ लहरै मिलेर रहेका हुन्छन्। प्रत्येक डीएनएमा दुई घुमाउरो समानान्तर संरचना हुन्छन्, जसलाई डबल हेलिक्स पनि भनिन्छ। दुई समानान्तर संरचनामध्येको एक संरचनामा कुनै स्थानमा ‘ए’ छ भने विपरीत संरचनाको सोही स्थान मा ‘टी’, र ‘सी’ छ भने ‘जी’ हुन्छ। यो डीएनएको अणूमा हुने स्वाभाविक विन्यास हो।
सबै डीएनएको विशेषता यिनै चार अक्षरको सिक्वेन्स (अनुक्रम)मा भर पर्छ र कुनै पनि जीवको आनुवंशिक गुण यही डीएनए अनुक्रमले निर्धारण गर्दछ। जसरी केही सीमित अक्षर (नेपालीमा ३६ र अङ्ग्रेजीमा २६)को प्रयोग गरी विभिन्न प्रकारका अनगिन्ती कृति निर्माण गर्न सकिन्छ, त्यसैगरी जैविक भाषाका यी चार अक्षरको प्रयोगले जीवजगतमा पाइने सम्पूर्ण प्रकारका डीएनए निर्माण गरिएका हुन्छन्।

मानव कोषिकामा आनुवंशिक गुण निर्धारण गर्ने क्रियाशील डिएनका साथै केही यस्ता डीएनए पनि हुन्छन्, जो निष्त्रि्कय हुन्छन् र जसले कुनै आनुवंशिक गुण निर्धारण गर्दैनन्। यसका अतिरिक्त प्रत्येक मानव कोषिकामा व्यक्तिपिच्छे केही यस्ता विशेष प्रकारका डीएनए हुन्छन् जो अन्य व्यक्तिमा पाइँदैनन्। प्रत्येक मानिसको डीएनएमा पाइने यही विशेषताको अध्ययन गरिन्छ डीएनए परीक्षणमा।

प्रकृतिमा एक डिम्बीय जुम्ल्याहाबाहेक अरू कुनै पनि दुई व्यक्तिको डीएनएको बनोट एकअर्कासँग शतप्रतिशत मेल खाँदैन। यही कारणले केही जुम्ल्याहाबाहेक विश्वका लगभग छ अर्ब मानिसको रूप, रङ, व्यवहार र आनुवंशिक गुण एकअर्कासँग ठ्याम्मै मेल खाँदैन। यसरी प्रत्येक व्यक्तिको हस्तचक्र फरक भएजस्तै डीएनएको बनोट पनि व्यक्तिपिच्छे फरक हुने गर्दछ। यसै भएर डीएनएको बनोटलाई ‘डीएनए फिङगरप्रिन्ट’ पनि भनिन्छ।
डीएनए परीक्षण विशेष गरी आमाबाबु र सन्तानबीच नाता प्रमाणित गर्न तथा हत्या, बलात्कारलगायतका विभिन्न अपराधमा संलग्न व्यक्ति र कुनै दुर्घटनामा अनुहार चिन्न नसकिने गरी मृत्यु भएका व्यक्तिको पहिचान गर्न प्रयोग गरिन्छ। यसका अतिरिक्त डीएनए परीक्षण नजिकका नातेदारको वंशावली तयार पार्न, लामो समयदेखी हराएका वा छुट्टिएका नातेदारको पहिचान गरी पुनर्मिलनमा सहयोग गर्न र गम्भीर प्रकृतिका आनुवंशिक रोगको पहिचान गर्न प्रयोग गरिन्छ। यस प्रयोजनका निम्ति रगत, वीर्य, र्‍याल, हड्डी, जरासहितको रौंँलगायतका विभिन्न स्रोतबाट प्राप्त मानव कोषिकाको प्रयोग गरिन्छ। पुरातत्वविज्ञानमा यो प्रविधि शताब्दीयौँ पुरानो जीवाश्मको आनुवंशिक अनुसन्धान गर्न प्रयोग गरिन्छ।

डीएनएको परीक्षणकै आधारमा केही समयअघि बिल क्लिन्टन र मोनिका लेविन्स्कीबीच यौन सम्पर्क स्थापित भएको प्रमाणित भएको थियो। यसैगरी अदालतबाट मृत्यदण्डको सजाय पाएका कैयौँ व्यक्ति डीएनए परीक्षणबाट निर्दोष साबित र जेलमुक्त भएका छन्। विश्वमा डीएनए परीक्षणद्वारा अदालतमा हुने गरेका कैयौँ फैसलासमेत त्रुटिपूर्ण प्रमाणित भएका छन्।

हिजोआज डीएनए परीक्षण न्याय सम्पादनमा आमाबाबु र सन्तानबीचको नाता प्रमाणित गर्न भरपर्दाे पद्धतिका रूपमा स्थापित भइसकेको छ। कुनै पनि शिशुले आफ्नो आमा र बाबुबाट समान मात्रामा डीएनए प्राप्त गर्ने भएकाले आमा र बाबुको डीएनएमा भएका विशेषताका ठूलो अंश शिशुको डीएनएमा पनि देखा पर्दछ। तसर्थ कुनै शिशुको वास्तविक आमा वा बाबुको सही पहिचान उनीहरूको डीएनए परीक्षण गरेर सजिलै निर्धारण गर्न सकिन्छ। डीएनए परीक्षणको प्रक्रिया केही जटिल भएकाले यसमा उच्च सावधानी र सतर्कता अपनाउनु आवश्यक छ। अन्यथा गलत नतिजा आउने सम्भावना हुन्छ। तर सुविधायुक्त प्रयोगशालामा दक्ष र तालिम प्राप्त वैज्ञानिकले अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय मापदण्डअनुसार गरिएको डीएनए परीक्षणको विश्वसनीयता झण्डै शतप्रतिशत भरपर्दाे हुने बताइन्छ। सही निर्णयमा पुग्न कतिपय विकसित मुलुकमा अदालतले एकभन्दा बढी मान्यताप्राप्त प्रयोगशालामा डीएनए परीक्षण गराउँछन् र विभिन्न प्रयोगशालामा गरिएका परीक्षणको नतिजा शतप्रतिशत मिलेमा त्यसलाई प्रमाणका रूपमा स्वीकार गर्छन्।

भनिन्छ, कानुनले प्रमाण खोज्छ। विज्ञानले पनि वास्तवमा प्रमाणनै खोज्छ। यस अर्थमा विज्ञान र कानुनबीच केही समानता देखिन्छ। विज्ञानले प्रदान गर्ने प्रमाण अन्य प्रमाणभन्दा बढी विश्वसनीय हुने भएकाले आज विश्वका विकसित मुलुकमा कानुनी निकायले फैसला गर्दा प्रमाणका आधारमा फैसला गर्ने आधारभूत सिद्धान्तअनुरूप डीएनए परीक्षणजस्ता वैज्ञानिक परीक्षण र अनुसन्धानलाई बढी महत्व दिँदै आएका छन्। अर्थात् ती मुलुकमा विज्ञानप्रति अविश्वास गरिँदैन।

नीता-राजिवको मुद्दामा राष्ट्रिय विधि विज्ञान प्रयोशालाले पेस गरेको डीएनए परीक्षणको प्रतिवेदन अस्वीकार गरिनुको कारण यस प्रकारको परीक्षणमा हुनसक्ने सम्भावित त्रुटि हुनसक्छ। त्रुटि त हरेक पेसामा हुनसक्छ। हो, यस्ता सम्भावित त्रुटि हुन नदिन वा न्यूनीकरण गर्नेतर्फ सम्बन्धित सबैको ध्यान जानु आवश्यक छ। राष्ट्रिय विधि विज्ञान प्रयोशालाका वैज्ञानिकहरूकाअनुसार उक्त प्रयोगशालामा गरिने डीएनए परीक्षण त्रुटिरहित छ र यसलाई अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय प्रयोगशालालेसमेत प्रमाणित गरेका छन्। तसर्थ राष्ट्रिय विधि विज्ञान प्रयोगशालामा गरिएको डीएनए परीक्षणमाथि शङ्का गर्ने उचित आधार देखिँदैन। शङ्का लागेको भए परीक्षण दोहर्‍याएर गर्न सकिन्थ्यो। परीक्षणमा लापरवाही भएको प्रमाणित भएमा सम्बन्धित वैज्ञानिक वा प्राविधिज्ञलाई उचित दण्ड दिने कानुनी व्यवस्था पनि गर्न सकिन्छ। तर एक्काईसौँ शताब्दी र वैज्ञानिक युगमा विज्ञानमा आधारित प्रमाणले खास कारणबिना मान्यता नपाउनुले हामी आधुनिक समयसँग हिँड्न नसकेको वा नचाहेको र पुरानै रुढिवादी समाजमा बाँच्न चाहेको ठहरिन्छ। नेपाली समाजका हरेक वर्ग र क्षेत्रमा वैज्ञानिक चेतनाको कमी पाइन्छ। विज्ञानमा आधारित प्रमाणले मान्यता नपाउनु पनि यही अवस्थाको एक सङ्केत हो कि?


Bangalore, Dec 9, 2009: The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India, has achieved completion of first ever human genome sequencing in India. Scientist of CSIR at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi, have sequenced the human genome of an anonymous healthy Indian citizen. Addressing a press conference, Union Minister for Science and Technology, Mr Prithviraj Chavan said that this feat is unique in the sense that it has been achieved by a team of very young scientists. CSIR has been endeavoring to nucleate such teams in different niche technological areas as per the directive of Dr Manmohan Singh, President of CSIR and Prime Minister of India.

Elaborating the details of research on human genome, the Mr Chavan said that the first human genome sequence in the world was a result of the International Human Genome Project comprising scientists from the US, UK, France, Germany, Japan and China. The project formally started in 1990 and the sequencing was completed in 2003. This spectacular feat at that time was hailed equivalent to the man landing on the moon. India could not be a part of this large initiative as in the early nineties it lacked the necessary resources. With the completion of the first human genome sequence in India, the nation is now in the league of select few countries like the US, China, Canada, UK, and Korea who have demonstrated the capability to sequence and assemble complete human genomes. CSIR could achieve this by adopting new technologies and by effectively integrating complex computational tools with high throughput analytical capabilities.

The first human genome sequence in India took more than a decade with a spending of over one billion US dollars. CSIR scientists at IGIB finished the complete sequencing and assembly in much shorter time comparable with similar recent effort the world over. By using next generation technologies and skills, they successfully bridged the technological gap that existed a decade ago.

Mr Samir K Brahmachari, Director General of CSIR informed that the human genome has 3.1 billion base pairs. The team at IGIB generated over 51 gigabases of data using next generation sequencing technology, resulting in over 13x coverage of the human genome. This next-generation sequencing technology enables massively parallel sequencing of millions of genomic fragments of 76 base pairs, which are then mapped back to the reference genome. This humongous exercise was made possible with the CSIR supercomputing facility at IGIB.

The sequencing of the first human genome in India in conjunction with Indian Genome Variation program opens newer vistas for low-cost affordable healthcare and predictive medicine in future for the masses. This also opens up newer possibilities in disease diagnostics, treatment and sustaining low-cost drugs in the market.

This Article has been adapted from: © BioSpectrum Bureau

STRAnalyzerKATHMANDU: In an attempt to help identify dead bodies buried in mass graves, Nepal´s National Forensic Science Laboratory (NFSL) is likely to start

Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) testing using samples of bone. Till now, NFSL has been able to carry out DNA testing only on fresh blood. This sort of DNA testing is useful mainly to establish parental relationship in property disputes rather than in assisting police investigating serious crime. “We will very soon introduce the new technology of DNA testing that uses samples of bone,” Vinushobha Tuladhar, director of NFSL, told

With the advent of by-bone DNA profiling, NFSL is expected to assist not only the police in probing crime but also various human rights organizations with the identification of bodies buried in mass graves during the decade-long conflict. Identification of those killed in the conflict has been next to impossible so far owing to lack of by-bone DNA testing technology. It has prolonged the sorrow of people desperate to know the whereabouts of family members who went missing in the conflict.

Human rights organizations like the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) had long been urging NFSL to begin by-bone testing for the benefit of families of the disappeared. “We are introducing the new technology chiefly upon the request of human rights organizations,” Tuladhar said. “It is expected to be instrumental in helping people find family members.”

Established in 1986, NFSL started DNA testing by blood samples about four years ago. ABI 310, a genetic analyzer set up at NFSL to carry out by-blood DNA testing, can be used for by-bone testing as well.According to Dinesh Kumar Jha, science official at NFSL, a new set of software and kits are sufficient for enhancement of the ABI 310 to start DNA testing with bone samples. “We already have an analyzing platform to carry out all sorts of DNA testing,” Jha says. “Adding some instruments will easily boost our capability in battling crime as well as human rights violations.”

The National Planning Commission has pledged assistance to NFSL to introduce the new technology, which is estimated to cost around five million rupees including purchase of a set of software and the kits required. “We will purchase these instruments soon after we collect the money,” Tuladhar said.According to the latest report published by ICRC, the whereabouts of 1,348 persons who went missing during the conflict have not been confirmed yet. The government and the insurgents, responsible for the disappearances, seem to be indifferent to the sorrow of the families affected.In the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the government and the Maoists had agreed to publicize details about all missing persons.The reliability of DNA testing by bone largely depends on how carefully samples are collected. The result of DNA tests will not be correct if bone samples are degraded. Bone degradation depends on the atmosphere at the places where the samples are collected.

Adapted From :

BSN organized a talk program on the occasion of world DNA and Genome Day on 25th April 2008. DNA Day is celebrated worldwide to commemorate discovery of double helix structure of DNA by Watson and Crick in 1953. It is also celebrated for completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. The program was a small endeavor of BSN to remember one of the remarkable achievements made in the history of biological sciences.
In the program, renowned scientists working in different fields such as forensics, agriculture, food, environment and pharmacology were present. It was chaired by Prof. Dr. Hom Nath Bhattarai who also articulated scopes and challenges for scientists in Nepal. Prof. Dr. Vishwanath Prasad Agrawal, one of the senior scientists of Nepal revealed the dark side of the government about its reluctance in investment for science and technology. Dr. Agrawal who has also been elected in the CA election further added “It is the government who should understand the importance of biodiversity of Nepal and invest accordingly. Otherwise scientists can hardly achieve their goal with such limited budget”.
Other distinguished guests of the program, Dr Mukunda Ranjit (Program Coordinator, SANN International College), Dr. Panna Thapa (Dean, School of Science, Kathmandu University), Dr. Tribikram Bhattarai (Head of Department of Biotechnology, Tribhuwan University) and Dr. Shiva Prasad Dhauvadel from Department of Chemistry, Tribhuwan University, discussed about current stage of Biotechnology in Nepal. They illustrated an immense scope of this technology in biologically rich country like Nepal. Mr. Jiwan Rijal, Special scientist, National forensic Lab, gave a clear idea about DNA and Forensic Science. Similarly Dr. Sameer M Dixit, country director, Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal, focused on scope of DNA based disease diagnosis in Nepal.
The program was held at Direction Exhibition and Convention Center, United World Trade Center (4th Floor), Tripureshwor, Kathmandu.
The program turned out to be a huge success with over 130 participants and the speakers emphasized on the need of such interaction programs to be held frequently.