Akanksha Pandey, Ambuj Kumar and Rituraj Purohit*
Bioinformatics Division, School of Bio Sciences and Technology, Vellore Institute of Technology University, Vellore 632014, Tamil Nadu, India
Received date: June 10, 2012; Accepted date: July 02, 2012; Published date: July 07, 2012
Citation: Pandey A, Kumar A, Purohit R(2012) Current Vision of Genomic Research and Its Positive Impact on Global Community. J Anal Bioanal Tech 3:136. doi: 10.4172/2155-9872.1000136
Copyright: © 2012 Pandey A, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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Genomics has its own application in wide range of life science research. Recent studies are now being concentrated on functional and comparative aspects of genomics and that makes an efficient platform for drug discovery and pharmaceutical research. In this note, we have focused on how the genomic studies are showing their positive impact on the global community and in what way it could be further advanced.
Modern era of “Genomic Revolution” has led to the exploration of various domains of “omics” i.e. genomics, proteomics, transcriptomics etc. and transformed our vision and understanding of the dynamic interaction between living organisms and the corresponding environment. Genomics is considered as study of genome of organisms and has its wide applications in almost all areas of biology, including drug discovery and in proteomic analysis [1-6]. It helps in obtaining the blue print of an organism and further enables to understand their organization and functions. Applied genomics has two major aspects: i) efforts to determine the DNA sequence of organisms as well as physical mapping, ii) expression of genes to describe their function and interaction (functional genomics). With the advent of advanced computational techniques, a new branch has now emerged and termed as “comparative genomics” which deals with relationship between genomes of different species.
If we analyze the potential areas of genome research, the first and foremost is sequencing the genomes of model organisms. The race of DNA sequencing started with complete sequencing of bacteriophage φ-X174 in 1977 by Fredrick Sanger using Sanger method of DNA sequencing and moved on with sequencing of Haemophilus influenzae in 1995 and then many more model organisms like E.coli, Bacillus subtilis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Arabidopsis thaliana, Caenorhabditis elegans, Drosophila melanogaster etc [7,8]. The whole genome sequencing of model organisms provided a valuable insight into the molecular keys behind their growth, development and function mechanism. The knowledge of genome has opened a wide range of possibilities in elucidating the future prospects of gene regulation mechanism, trends in molecular evolution and phylogeny, genome organisation and in pharmaceutical researches to very higher extent. These possibilities can be practically observed for their usage in cancer therapeutics development and further in determining the structural and molecular aspects of the pathological disorders. Further, the application of genome sequencing methodologies can be used in the analysis of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and other yeast genomes that can help in development of new and improved strains of individual importance as well as can be helpful in search of novel anti fungal drugs.
The advancement in the sequencing technologies has outfield the current genomic databases and has created a wide opportunity for biologist to explore and unravel the hidden patters and has lead to the evolution on whole new discipline termed as “functional genomics” . This field mainly deals with dynamic aspects such as gene transcription, translation, protein-protein interaction etc. It mainly relates the genome of an organism with its phenotype and enables us to gain insights into genomic functionality and the associated phenotypic characteristics . This branch has paved our way in solving the mysteries of the genome and furthermore, it helped in resolving the mysteries of life forms.
Large amount of genomic data has revolutionised the arena of pharmaceutical researches. The genomic data not only enhanced our vision regarding the potential drug targets but has also provided us valuable information regarding drug metabolism and their associated positive and negative consequences in human body. It played a very crucial role in reducing the time constraints for drug development . These advancements further lead to the development of a promising area in the field of drug design and health care researches, and was termed as “personalised medicine”, believed to be a milestone in the area of pharmaceutical research . It is well realised that there is an inter-individual variation with respect to therapeutic responses to most of drugs and the same applies with the adverse drug reactions. So, a personalized approach can be a promising approach to certain deadly diseases, although it has some limitations that are needed to be addressed.
The advent of genomic era has further enhanced in the area of proteomic researches. The 3D confirmation of protein structures are required in order to resolve the ligand-target association mechanism [1-6]. The availability of genomic data’s has enabled us to carry a comparative screening of available structures that are closely associated to our model protein. These approaches require a combination of computational genomics and biophysical approaches and are now considered as a central point of in-silico drug discovery. The Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) that was launched with the aim of determining 3D structures of proteins having promising significance in the field of medicine, has further facilitated in target based drug therapy development . The structural genomics not only reduced the efforts carried out by the researchers, forecasting their work in the field of drug discovery, but has also proved to be a cost effective approach to determine the 3D confirmation of several important proteins.
Tracing the evolutionary history has been always the major area of research but the traditional methods study was on the basis of fossils and remains have provided only a deficient knowledge on evolution of life forms. Genomics has answered many of the unanswered questions on the basis of analysis of genomic data by some Bioinfo tools in order to predict the evolutionary history . A new discipline termed as “phylogenomics” has originated which combines the perspectives of genomics and evolutionary studies of a species in order to construct a species tree by combining information from genes or entire genomes. The foremost question raised in the field of evolution is pointing on origin of centrosomes . Previously it was suggested that the centrosomes are vital for cell cycle progression and bipolar spindle formation. But the recent article published in Cell, entitled as “Flies without centrioles” has changed our belief regarding their essentiality and requirement for cell division . But then, these questions can only be answered by the upcoming trends in evolutionary genomics that may provide a clear understanding of evolutionary patterns followed by centrosomes and answers to the questions regarding their origin and ancestral existence.
If we want to discuss about how to create a positive impact on global community, the first step is to determine the major problems that are associated to the global community, mostly starting from World food and hunger problem. According to WHO estimate, one third of the world is well fed, one third is under fed and one third is starving. It also says that one in 12 people worldwide is malnourished. There is a general saying that every day when we go to bed, almost 70% of the world population goes to bed either empty stomach or half filled stomach. Genome research can have a great impact on finding solutions to this global issue. The world wide efforts have been launched in order to increase the yield of cereals with the help of data obtained from scientific research experiments. For example, launch of wheat whole genome sequencing consortium with the aim of providing insights into the genome of wheat so that new varieties of wheat can be developed has been successful . Genomics is not only playing an important role in increasing the production but also launched the concept of “nutrigenomics” which mainly focuses on adjusting human metabolism using a diet in genome and age specific way i.e., how can one minimise the effects of certain genes and their products by following a genome tailored nutritional regime. Genomics can also play an important role in food safety protecting it from the action of microbes. Bacillus subtilis is one of the major causes of food spoilage and threat to food packaging industry. The genome of this bacterium has been sequenced and with the use of genomic data its behaviour at elevated temperature is studied and a model was built considering the physical parameters to control spoilage in order to reach an optimal balance between efficient food processing, product safety and quality .
The second area of concern is the loss of biodiversity due to increased human interference. Some of the facts in terms of loss of tigers by an annual report by Wildlife Institute of India is “About a century ago there were eight subspecies of tiger all native to Asia but now there are only five”. According to a recent consensus, total number of tigers all over the world is around 3,200 and in India it is about 1,300 to 1,500. With the help of genomics an interesting conservation method can be developed for the conservation of tigers. We have the MHC sequence of tigers as the genome is not sequenced till now. But we can use this to identify the homologues that are less likely to reject the implanted embryos and hence can play a major role in their conservation. Successful implementation of this strategy warrants use of similar approach to conserve other endangered animal species, birds, reptiles and insects which are on the verge of extinction. Hence, we can utilise the information obtained from genome research to protect the life forms and minimise the loss of biodiversity.
The next major problem is the spread of infectious disease which severely effects mankind. According to a survey, over 9.5 million people all over the world die each year due to infectious diseases and if we take the case of tuberculosis specifically, around 1.7 million people die each year due to this disease. The mechanism of survival and pathogenicity of the pathogen is least understood. With the help of Pan-genomic data we can identify the susceptibility for infectious disease by identifying the relevant virulence gene. Today with the advancement of genomic studies we know that genetic variation among organism plays an important role in cause of infection by a pathogen. This was explained by many examples like a gene identified as NRAMP1 has been found to affect the susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis. In the same way some genes were identified which affects the susceptibility to HIV and AIDS like HLA –B35 and HLA-B8-DR3 are associated with rapid disease progression where as HLA –B27 and HLA-B57 with lower rate of progression . The knowledge of the genes affecting the rate of progression of the disease can prove to be useful in drug targeting and inventing a cure for them. In order to utilize genomic data to create a major impact in this area, international community should unite, under an “infectious disease genome project” with a goal of comprehensive, open access system of genomic information to accelerate the scientific understanding and product development in the very setting, where the diseases have the highest probability of emerging.
In parallel to aforementioned combating infectious diseases and their causative agents, antibiotic resistance in the disease causing microorganisms poses a pressing need to get solved. This problem seems to be simple now but it is more likely to be intense in future in terms of development of superbugs for which none of the antibiotics will be effective. One of the recent cases of antibiotic resistance is the creation of MDR–TB and XDR-TB strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Due to these reasons tuberculosis has been declared as global health emergency by WHO. Genomic analysis of strains for outbreak investigations is in vogue for about a decade now. However, information available from whole genome sequencing efforts and comparative genomics of laboratory and field strains is likely to revolutionize efforts towards understanding molecular pathogenesis and dissemination dynamics of this dreaded disease. Genomic information is also going to fuel discovery projects where new targets will be identified and explored towards a new drug for TB.
From all the above discussion we can conclude that genome research can be roughly divided into two major groups:
i) The projects that aim to increase the breadth of genomic knowledge available like projects involving the sequencing of organisms.
ii) The projects that aims at increasing the depth knowledge on a single or a few organisms (The ENCODE project that is aimed at figuring out the functions of all known genes in the Human genome and the genomes of a few model organisms , The 1000 genomes project and HapMap project , aimed at understanding genetic variation among populations, Cancer genome projects  and even the ongoing effort to fill in the few remaining gaps in the human genome etc.)
If we want to create an impact on promotion of scientific research then more emphasis should be laid on the breadth projects since they increase our knowledge and understanding in various domains. But if we purely think with an application point of view then depth projects need more importance as they enhance our knowledge specifically.
The decision regarding the sequencing of an organism should be made on the basis of cost and benefit analysis (i.e.) spending a large amount of resources on sequencing that organism should be judged on the basis of utility.
The aforesaid example approaches represent a sample of the huge potentials of genome research towards serving global community. To exploit much more benefit out of the explored and exploring genome research, here are some suggestions:
• Although a large number of genomes have been sequenced, still they stand underutilised. Development of more advanced computational techniques for integrated genome analysis is the need of the day
• The focus should be on sequencing of more closely related model organism and open access of the data obtained to the scientific community.
• Awareness in the public perception regarding the genomic studies so that we can overcome the barriers created by social, ethical and legal issues regarding the genomic research.
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