Quietly and without fanfare, Indian scientists have been sequencing the genome of an organism called Mycobacterium-w (Mw). It is India's first sequencing effort of a complete// genome that holds promise in the treatment of several diseases, including tuberculosis and leprosy.
Recent evidence that a vaccine made from killed Mw drastically reduces treatment time of tuberculosis (TB) including the multi-drug resistant (MDR) variety is driving this project more than three decades after the discovery of the bug.
The organism Mw was discovered in late 1970s by a team led by biochemist Gursaran "Pran" Talwar, then head of the biochemistry division at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.
"Because we have not sequenced any genome so far, we decided to sequence Mw that was discovered in India," says Syed Hasnain, formerly director of the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) in Hyderabad, one of the three laboratories involved in the sequencing project.
"The complete sequence will be available in about a month," Hasnain, now vice chancellor of the University of Hyderabad, told IANS. "Our data already suggests there may be surprises to the scientific community. I cannot say more until we publish the work."
Other labs participating in sequencing Mw are those of Akilesh Tyagi and Anil Tyagi in Delhi University.
The infrastructure built up in Delhi University for sequencing the chromosome number 11 of rice, as part of the global rice genome project, is used for cracking the genome of Mw, says Hasnain, who is coordinating the project.
The sequencing of Mw and a large-scale clinical trial with the Mw vaccine are two parts of a study funded by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
In the clinical trial being carried out in eight centres around the country, the Mw vaccine is given to tuberculosis patients already on drugs to see if the drug-vPage: 1 2 3 Related medicine news :1
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