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Indians more prone to HIV-AIDS than others, says study

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Indians more prone to HIV-AIDS than others, says study

26 Apr 2008, 0307 hrs IST , Ashish Sinha , TNN

NEW DELHI: The biggest ever gene mapping exercise of the " people of

India " has shown that Indians are more vulnerable to HIV-AIDS than

many other population groups around the world. This is because a

protective gene marker against HIV-1 is virtually absent in India,

making the population more at risk.

The study also shows that the risk increases as one moves from north

to south India. It also says the Indian gene pool is quite varied and

the term or description " Indian " is hardly homogenous. It includes

several variations across population groups spread across the

country's land mass.

On the vulnerability to HIV-AIDS, the study says, " There is a high-to-

low gradient from north to south (India). These results are

consistent with the observations by Majumder and Dey in 2001, and the

antenatal clinical HIV prevalence survey (2005) that reports a high

frequency of HIV in south Indian populations. "

The study, released by science and technology minister Kapil Sibal on

Friday, was carried out by more than 150 scientists and researchers

from six CSIR laboratories. A part of the genetic landscaping were

the Centre for Genomic Applications (Delhi) and a host of


Gene study largest since Green Revolution

Perhaps the largest scientific endeavour since ICAR's Green

Revolution effort of 1970s, the mapping covered four main linguistic

families of Indians — Austro-Asiatic, Tibeto-Burman, Indo-European

and Dravidian. It also encompassed the mostly endogamous (marrying

within the larger social group) Indian population defined by distinct

religious communities, hierarchical castes and subcastes, and

isolated tribal groups.

The study, a part of the Indian Genome variation initiative, has

generated information on over 4,000 genetic markers from more than

1,000 biomedically important and pharmacogenetically relevant genes

in reference groups. The study reveals a high degree of genetic

differentiation among Indian ethnic groups and suggests

that " pooling " of endogamous populations without regard to " ethno-

linguistic factors " will result in false inferences.

" We note that the people of India are referred as 'Indian' in many

population genetic studies. The implication of such usage is that the

Indian population is genetically homogeneous, which, as the results

of our study indicate, is evidently not true. However, we have also

shown it is possible to identify large clusters of ethnic groups that

have substantial genetic homogeneity, " it says.

The mapping is expected to help in constructing " specific drug

response/disease predisposition maps " to aid policy decision making

for drug dosage interventions and disease risk management, especially

for complex and infectious diseases.




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