Advanced genomics research centre inaugurated

Next generation sequencing can bring about a revolution in biological sciences and unprecedented progress to society as genomics is the sunrise sector of the 21st century just like Information Technology in the 90s took the country to great heights, said Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday.

Mr. Singh was speaking after virtually opening the city-based ‘Nucleome Informatics’, South Asia’s largest and most advanced genomics facility – NKC Centre for Genomics Research, which will carry out the latest third-generation sequencing and play a critical role in fighting the pandemic by sequencing 5,000 COVID genomes and 500 human genomes.

Established in the memory of the late six-time MP from Khandwa, Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan, the NKC centre will also start providing in-house ‘DrSeq suite of predictive genomics products’ to improve the understanding and uptake of personalised or precision medicine. The laboratory will have the world’s largest long-and-short-read sequencing facilities. Another such facility will come up in Indore soon.

The Defence Minister said that the ultra-modern lab will also play a role in upping the country’s potential in agriculture, animal husbandry and personalised medicine. In the backdrop of climate change and COVID, genome sequencing can increase productivity and help in healthcare. “COVID genome sequencing will also help us find out that part of the virus DNA that does not change, which will contribute to vaccine development,” he pointed out.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who also participated in the function, said ‘Agrigenomics’ can help in increasing farm productivity, reduce input cost, and increase resistance to disease so that farmers’ income can be doubled. Principal scientific adviser Prof. K. VijayRaghavan said the laboratory is an extraordinary feat. He was impressed with the technology put in place and looked forward to its implementation.

Nucleome CEO and MD Dushyant Singh Baghel said that the NKC centre is a tribute to the late Khandwa MP’s relentless service to people. “It was his continuous support and morale-boosting that motivated us to abandon the idea of moving the venture to San Diego (United States) and to continue it in India,” he said.

With the addition of NovaSeq 6000 (the world’s largest short-read sequencing) and GeneTitan platforms, the laboratory will play a critical role in expanding the scope of in-house services, allow seamless cross-platform services and analyse data of RNA sequencing for improving precision medicine,” said Mr. Baghel,

BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, Rajya Sabha MPs Rajendra Gehlot and Ajay Pratap Singh, Dept of Biotechnology secretary Dr. Renu Swarup, Animal Husbandry and Dairy secretary Atul Chaturvedi, TS IT secretary Jayesh Ranjan and others were present during the inauguration.

Last year, Nucleome was said to be the first laboratory in South Asia to procure the third-generation long-read sequencing platform ‘Sequel II’ from PacBio. It also became the first Indian organisation to partner in the prestigious multinational Vertebrate Genome Project of the G10K Consortium, a press release said.

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